Liam Campbell, who was found civilly liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing, has been granted leave by the High Court to appeal a Lithuanian extradition order, where he faces international weapons trafficking charges.
Campbell (58) was arrested in Upper Faughart, Dundalk, Co Louth, on December 2nd, 2016, on foot of the second European arrest warrant (EAW) issued by Lithuanian authorities .
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.
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.
Campbell’s legal team has argued against the extradition warrant, arguing that the Lithuanians took so long to seek to have him extradited that it amounts to an abuse of process.
Mr Remy Farrell, SC, for Campbell, argued that his client could be subjected to "inhuman or degrading treatment" in Lithuania.
His client's bail had been "hanging over him for four years" and the delay in proceedings was "shameful", said Mr Farrell. Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly formally made the order for Campbell's surrender on Monday at the High Court.
Campbell, civilly blamed for the 1998 Omagh, the single deadliest Troubles bombing, resulting in 29 deaths, appeared in court wearing a white shirt, dark trousers and a dark jacket and spoke only to say “Yes” to acknowledge his bail conditions.
Mr Farrell, in his submission for leave to appeal on 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.
Ms Justice Donnelly, granting the certificate of appeal, said the court was "amenable" to clarity being sought as to whether an intention to put someone on trial was "coterminous" with putting them on trial.
The judge 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 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.