HIGH COURT

Liam Campbell - found civilly liable for Omagh bombing - granted leave to appeal Lithuania extradition order in 12-year fight

Court

Paul Neilan

Reporter:

Paul Neilan

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High Court

Liam Campbell, who was found civilly liable for the Omagh bombing, has been granted leave by the High Court to appeal an extradition order surrendering him to Lithuania, where he is to answer charges of international weapons trafficking.  

Campbell (58) was arrested in Upper Faughart, Dundalk, Co Louth, on December 2, 2016, on foot of the second European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Lithuanian authorities to be endorsed by the High Court here. It is the third attempt overall by Lithuania to seek Campbell's surrender.  

The 1998 bombing was the single deadliest incident in the Troubles, resulting in 29 deaths.
 


Today, the High Court granted Campbell leave to appeal his surrender on a point of law. He has 10 days to make his complaint to the Court of Appeal before his surrender in 25 days' time.


The arrest warrant for Campbell stated that he allegedly organised the preparation for the smuggling of weapons in support of the “terrorist grouping” the Real IRA (RIRA) between the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.

Campbell's legal team had originally objected to his surrender based on the length of time he had been subject to the warrant and had argued that he could be subjected to "inhuman or degrading treatment" in prison there.

Mr Remy Farrell SC, for Campbell, had said at a previous sitting that the Lithuanian authorities were "culpable, with a capital C" over the delay, which amounted to an "abuse of process".

Mr Farrell added that the remand prison of Lukiskes, in Vilnius, had closed in July of last year, that his client's bail was "hanging over him for four years" and that the delay in proceedings was "shameful".


In a judgement returned on June 26, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, said she was satisfied that an order for the surrender of Campbell may be made.

As that judgement was delivered electronically, Ms Justice Donnelly formally made the order for Campbell's surrender today (MONDAY) at the High Court.


Campbell appeared in court wearing a white shirt, dark trousers and a dark jacket and only spoke "yes" to acknowledge his bail conditions.


Mr Farrell, in his submission for leave to appeal today (MONDAY), successfully argued a question on a point of law on whether or not the wording of an "intention" by a foreign jurisdiction to put someone on trial was the same as putting them on trial.


The Minister for Justice, represented by Mr Patrick McGrath SC, had opposed the submission for leave to appeal.


Mr Justice Donnelly, granting the certificate of appeal, said that the court was "amenable" to clarity being sought as to whether an intention to put someone on trial is "coterminous" with putting them on trial.

Ms Justice Donnelly said that the respondent's case was on "very nuanced matters" and that it was not "necessarily about the strength of the point in the case" but it was whether or not there was "uncertainty".
 


The EAW had sought Campbell to prosecute him on three offences: preparation of a crime, illegal possession of firearms and terrorism. The maximum sentence for the offence of terrorism is 20 years


The warrant alleges that Campbell "made arrangements, while acting in an organised terrorist group, the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) to acquire a substantial number of firearms and explosives from Lithuania and smuggle them into Ireland".


It further alleges that during the end of 2006 to 2007 Campbell "made arrangements with Seamus McGreevy, Michael Campbell (his brother), Brendan McGuigan and other unidentified persons to travel to Lithuania for the purposes of acquiring firearms and explosives, including, automatic rifles, sniper guns, projectors, detonators, timers and trotyl [TNT]".


Campbell had previously spent four years in custody in Northern Ireland during a second attempt to extradite him and was released when he succeeded in his objection that to do so would be a breach of his rights.