Prosecutor seeks 16-year term in Lithuania Real IRA trial

8th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Lithuanian prosecutor called Friday for a 16-year jail term for an Irishman charged with attempting to smuggle arms from the Baltic state to dissident paramilitary group the Real IRA.

Prosecutor Gedgaudas Norkunas asked a court in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to convict Michael Campbell for attempted smuggling, supporting a terrorist group and illegal possession of weapons.

"We propose that the court hand down a 16-year prison sentence," Norkunas said.

Campbell was arrested in January 2008 in Vilnius as he met with an undercover Lithuanian officer posing as an arms dealer. He went on trial in August 2009.

At a hearing in May this year he admitted purchasing weapons, but denied he plotted to boost the arsenal of the Real Irish Republican Army, led by his elder brother.

He declined to say for whom the arms were destined, and claimed he was set up by British intelligence.

Summing up his case Friday, Norkunas rejected Campbell's defence.

"Michael Campbell attempted to acquire, and did acquire, weaponry for the use of the terrorist group RIRA," he said.

He charged that the weapons, including explosives and rocket-propelled grenades, were to be used against British soldiers and bullet-proof government cars.

Campbell's legal team will present his final defence at hearings in mid-September, his lawyer Ingrida Botyriene told AFP.

A verdict is expected later this year.

Campbell's family ties are crucial to the prosecution case because his brother Liam, 47, is one of the four leaders of the Real IRA found liable by a civil court for a 1998 bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland, which killed 29 people.

The Real IRA broke with the Provisional IRA -- once the main armed group opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland -- in 1997 over the latter's support for a peace deal with London.

© 2011 AFP

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