Belfast Court refuses to order Liam Campbell extradition to Lithuania

Lithuanian authorities may be regretting their apparent preference for dealing with the Northern Ireland Courts in the attempt to extradite Liam Campbell, one of the men held to be responsible for the Omagh bombing, on weapons and terrorism charges.  As the BBC reports, Mr Justice Burgess has refused to order Liam Campbell’s extradition to Lithuania on the grounds that he was likely to be held in inhuman and degrading conditions.

[Liam Campbell’s] lawyers resisted extradition proceedings by arguing that it would breach his human rights.

They brought in a special adviser to the British Home Office and the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture as part of their case.

Prof Rod Morgan visited Lukiskes Prison in Vilnius and delivered a critical assessment of prison regimes in Lithuania.

Campbell’s case centred on an argument that extradition would breach his right to freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under European law.

Mr Justice Burgess pointed out that reports of human rights violations were not in themselves evidence that a person would be at risk.

The determining factor was whether violations were systemic and the extent to which an individual could be specifically vulnerable to them.

After referring to an earlier judgment which detailed severely overcrowded and unsanitary conditions at Lukiskes Prison, the judge said he was satisfied that extraditing Campbell to Lithuania would expose him to a real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment by reason of the jail conditions.

His decision is expected to be appealed by the Lithuanian authorities.

Liam Campbell’s reluctance to travel to Lithuania may, however, cause problems for his brother, Michael, who was tried in Lithuania, found guilty of charges relating to the same Real IRA weapons smuggling plot, and sentenced to 12 years in October 2011.  As RTÉ reported in March 2012,

A Lithuanian court has said it wants to question Real IRA member Liam Campbell over his younger brother Michael, who was jailed for 12 years by Vilnius for a plot to smuggle arms from the Baltic state.

Justice Viktoras Kazys ruled that the testimony of Liam Campbell and another Irishman was key to an appeal launched by Michael Campbell against his prison term.

“The court will take the necessary measures for them to be questioned. The court believes questioning is necessary,” Judge Kazys said.

I haven’t been able to find a recent update on the, presumably ongoing, attempted extradition to Lithuania of that other Irishman mentioned in the RTÉ report, Brendan McGuigan.  That last reference I can find, via Ex Tempore, is this Feb 2012 Irish Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Irish Government’s appeal against an earlier High Court discovery order.  But no doubt his legal team will be watching…

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