Brutal | 

Real IRA Omagh bomber Liam Campbell faces 'hell on earth' in Baltic jail if convicted

Real IRA man Campbell could face 20 years in the Lithuanian prison, which is dogged with allegations of human rights abuses
Liam Cambell is in Kaunas prison

Liam Cambell is in Kaunas prison

Paula Mackin

Omagh bomber Liam Campbell faces "hell on earth'' if convicted on a raft of terrorism charges in Lithuania.

The Baltic State's prison regime is dogged with allegations of human rights abuses, including poor living conditions and extreme violence.

The Sunday World understands the Dundalk man will be transferred to Kaunas Remand Prison while he awaits trial for offences including terrorism, possession of weapons and smuggling.

If found guilty, Campbell (59), could face a 20 year sentence in the Baltic State, and then be transferred to a prison in a country where life behind bars has been described as "hell on earth,".

The Supreme Court last week ruled the extradition of Real IRA man Campbell, who was found liable for the Omagh bombing in a civil action taken by victims' relatives, can go ahead.

In what was a lengthy legal battle, Campbell, of Upper Faughart, Dundalk, Co Louth, had opposed Lithuania's request for his surrender.

In a European Arrest Warrant, the Lithuanian authorities allege that while acting in an organised terrorist group, the Real Irish Republican Army, he made arrangements 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.

He was arrested in Dundalk on December 2, 2016, on foot of the second European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Lithuanian authorities. It was the third attempt overall by Lithuania to seek his surrender.

Both the Irish High Court and Court of Appeal had ordered that he be extradited to the Baltic state. However, he appealed those findings to the Supreme Court.

In its decision, the five-judge court, comprising 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.

Sources close to Campbell say last Monday's ruling was a massive blow to the terrorist, who was confident he would win the appeal and he is now terrified of what lies ahead behind Baltic State bars.

"Liam really thought he would win, what we are wondering now is how Liam and his family will cope with him being literally banged up abroad. He won't be afforded the luxuries of being on a republican wing and his name will mean nothing in Lithuania, he really will be a no one, he won't be able to rely on his reputation to get an easy ride like he did when he was in jail here," a dissident source said.

"Things can go either way, he might find some people who are sympathetic to the Irish cause who will offer him some protection, that's his best chance, or he will be a sitting duck, fresh meat as they say, an easy target."

Lithuanian media sources also say Campbell will find it hard to adjust to life behind bars in any institution in the country where the Committee Against Torture found that the state continues to infringe on the rights of prisoners.

Violence comes from both guards and other inmates.

Chief among the Committee's concerns in its most recent report were cases of extreme physical and psychological violence from the guards.

Kaunas prison

Kaunas prison

The Committee also reported extremely high levels of violence, including sexual abuse, intimidation and exploitation among prisoners in the country's prison facilities.

It was revealed that inmates still maintain informal, hierarchical social groups in prisons.

And, according to sources, Campbell will not be able to rely on prison officers for protection as investigations have concluded that the guards tolerate extreme levels of violence and clearly do not do enough to keep convicts safe.

Hygiene requirements are also not met in all facilities, including some of the refurbished ones, with prisoners still only being allowed one shower a week and are unable to engage in leisure activities.

Some convicts say they have not been able to see relatives and loved ones for months on end.

The Committee Against Torture say prisoners like Campbell detained under the European Arrest Warrant are routinely found in conditions which violate human rights. Several EU member states have already refused to surrender people to Lithuania.

In response to this, Lithuania has issued assurances in some cases, such as Campbell's, to hold detainees in Kaunas remand prison, which has the best conditions though a far cry from what Campbell will soon view as the luxury of Maghaberry.


Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices