The Supreme Court has ruled that Liam Campbell, who was found civilly liable for the Omagh bombing, can be extradited to Lithuania where he is accused of offences including terrorism, possession of weapons and smuggling.
In what was a lengthy legal battle Campbell (59), Upper Faughart, Dundalk, Co Louth had opposed Lithuania's request for his surrender.
He had claimed that he should not be surrendered on the grounds that no decision has been taken in Lithuania to try him.
However, that argument was dismissed by a five-judge Supreme Court, and it is expected that Campbell will be surrendered to Lithuania in the coming days.
In a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) the Lithuanian authorities allege that while acting in an organised terrorist group, the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA), he attempted to acquire a substantial number of firearms and explosives from Lithuania and smuggle them into Ireland.
It is further alleged that during the end of 2006 to 2007 Campbell made arrangements with others to travel to Lithuania for the purposes of acquiring firearms and explosives, including, automatic rifles, sniper guns, projectors, detonators, timers and trotyl (TNT)”.
He was first arrested in Northern Ireland on foot of a warrant seeking his surrender in 2013. The request was refused by a Belfast court after a judge ruled that Campbell was likely to be held in inhuman and degrading conditions if extradited to Lithuania.
He was arrested in Dundalk on December 2nd 2016, on foot of the second EAW issued by Lithuanian authorities.
Both the High Court and Court of Appeal had ordered that he be extradited to the Baltic state. However, he appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear his appeal on the grounds that the Court of Appeal had erred in finding that a decision has been made in Lithuania to try and charge Campbell in accordance with the laws that govern extraditions between EU member states, namely the 2003 EAW Act.
He claimed that the Lithuanians intended to further question him before making any decision to charge or try him.
In its decision on Monday, the five-judge court comprised of Mr Justice John MacMenamin, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Ms Justice Marie Baker and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan dismissed Campbell's appeal.
Giving the court’s decision Ms Justice Baker said that the court was satisfied that a decision has been taken in the requesting state to charge and try Campbell in accordance with the relevant section of the 2003 EAW Act.
Under Section 21 A of the 2003 Act the judge said that the court must assess whether a decision has been made or a present intention exists to prosecute the person in accordance with criminal procedures in the requesting state. It must also consider if the requesting state has sufficient evidence to form its decision or intention to charge the person, she said.
The judge accepted that it is not permissible to surrender a person to gather that required evidence.
In relation to Campbell’s case, the judge said that all that remains before Campbell is charged in Lithuania is “a procedural step”.
The authorities in the Baltic republic have said they are satisfied that the evidence gathered to date by them are sufficient, without the need for gathering further evidence, to charge and try Campbell, the judge added.
There was, she said, a high probability that he will be charged and tried following the completion of mandatory preliminary questioning by the Lithuanian authorities.
In a concurring judgement, Mr Justice Charleton said that similar pre-trial safeguards that exist in Lithuanian law also exist in Irish law.
Any view that the Lithuanian system differs radically from Ireland’s legal system in relation to the finality of a decision to prosecute was wrong in the context of Section 4E of the 1967 Criminal Procedures Act which allows for an accused to apply to a trial court to dismiss the charges against them, Mr Justice Charleton added.