A REAL IRA suspect has won his appeal in Lithuania after a court quashed his conviction for trying to buy guns for dissident republican terrorists.
Michael Campbell is now free to return to the Republic after a court upheld his appeal against his conviction for a gun running plot scuppered during a covert MI5 sting operation.
Campbell, from Dundalk, Co Louth, was found guilty in October 2011 after MI5 agent posing as weapons’s dealers secretly recorded him trying to buy explosives and guns.
He was originally sentenced to 12 years in prison.
However, at the court of appeal in Lithuania, a judge found that prosecutors failed to prove his ties with the Real IRA.
Campbell, the brother of Liam Campbell who successfully fought against extradition to Lithuania to stand trial on the same charges, had been convicted of supporting a terrorist group, illegal possession of weapons and attempted smuggling.
Liam Campbell was one of two people found liable for the Omagh bomb atrocity in August 1998.
Judge Viktoras Kazys said in Lithuania there was insufficient evidence to deny statements that his actions had been provoked by undercover MI5 agents.
He said that he had never been arrested by the British or Irish authorities.
Campbell’s lawyer said following the court’s decision that “a person cannot be sentenced for a crime committed by state officials”.
She said He is now seeking compensation from the Lithuanian authorities for his past five years in jail.
“He was acquitted because the court found that what he was accused of was a provocation. It was just an activity of the state security services,” she added.
She said the court’s decision had been a surprise.
“It was unexpected, we thought that this case would reach the European Court of Human Rights, we thought it would go a longer distance. Some very serious things are not right in this case but we are happy (he was freed).”
The prosecution had presented recordings of Mr Campbell in which he was heard discussing the possibility of planting a bomb in London.