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Lithuanian report Lithuanian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-11-07 07:13:43
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Court jails Real IRA suspect for 12 years

A Lithuanian court on Friday sentenced Irish citizen Michael Campbell to 12 years in jail for seeking to acquire weapons and explosives in Lithuania to arm a Northern Irish republican militant group after a sting operation three years ago. Campbell, 38, was arrested in the Baltic state after an operation involving Lithuanian, Irish and British secret services in January 2008. "He was given sentences according to three articles of the criminal code, for a total 12-year term," Judge Arunas Kisielius told Reuters.

He said both Campbell and the prosecution had the right to appeal against the sentence, delivered in a first instance court. Lithuanian prosecutors had asked the court to sentence Campbell to 16 years in jail, including his pre-trial detention, on charges of arms smuggling and aiding a "terrorist organisation." The prosecutor said Campbell has paid undercover agents 10,000 euros (8,683 pounds) to buy weapons, including a sniper rifle, detonators, timers and high explosives, which could have been used against government targets in Britain.

Campbell told the court he had travelled to Lithuania to buy weapons, but said they were meant to be sold to criminals, not the Real Irish Republican Army, a splinter group of the now defunct IRA. A landmark 1998 peace deal largely ended the violence in Northern Ireland and paved the way for a power-sharing government led by Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, and its former enemies in the pro-British unionist community. The Real IRA, which opposed the peace deal, was suspected of being behind the Omagh bombing the same year that killed 29 people. Campbell has denied he was acting on the orders of his brother, Liam Campbell, a member of the Real IRA, who was found responsible in a civil trial, of involvement in the Omagh bombing. Lithuanian prosecutors have said they were seeking the extradition of Liam Campbell, now in detention in Northern Ireland, to Lithuania in relation to the arms smuggling case.


Lithuania to be investigated for CIA rendition links

Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian currently being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay, hopes the suit will force Lithuanian authorities to reopen their investigation into secret CIA facilities and victims of torture, according to Interights, a London-based human rights protection group. Lithuanian prosecutors announced last week they would not reopen an investigation despite new information about Zubaydah gathered by non-governmental organisations. An investigation by Lithuanian legislators two years ago found that two CIA prisons were set up in the Baltic state though it did not find evidence that the facilities actually held prisoners. Prosecutors then followed up with their own probe, only to close it in January for lack of evidence.

Rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Reprieve last month provided Lithuanian prosecutors with new information and contacts that they claim is sufficient to reopen the investigation, which they criticized as "superficial." The organisations attempted to show that Zubaydah was rendered from Morocco to Lithuania on a Boeing 737 in February 2005 - evidence that was unavailable before.

Interights said in a statement that Zubaydah "was held in a secret detention facility, constructed and equipped specifically for CIA detention, in accordance with prior authorization from high level Lithuanian authorities." By filing the suit in the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, lawyers hope to win a verdict "recognizing (Zubaydah) as a victim of torture, secret detention and enforced disappearance on Lithuanian soil" and compel Lithuanians to conduct "an independent and thorough investigation."


UNESCO vote reveals Lithuanian duplicity

Perhaps the most ironic vote against the Palestinian UNESCO bid came from Lithuania, with its attempts to prosecute Holocaust survivors.  Yes, the Foreign Ministry saved some face from the “loyalty” of some East European EU/NATO states in Monday’s lopsided UNESCO vote on full Palestinian membership (107 to 14 in favor, with 52 abstentions). Latvia, which had earlier voted against full Palestinian membership in the executive council, at least abstained in Monday’s general vote. Other abstentions included Estonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Perhaps the most ironic vote against the Palestinian bid came from Lithuania. Within minutes of the UNESCO vote, Rolandas Kacinskas, minister plenipotentiary at the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington, e-mailed his Jewish list the one-liner: “This is just a quick note to let you know that at today’s UNESCO general assembly Lithuania voted AGAINST admitting Palestine as a full member of UNESCO” (red capital letters appeared in the original).

The vote might have been cause for rejoicing if not for Lithuania’s sad record of attempted prosecutions of elderly Holocaust survivors because they escaped the ghetto to join up with the anti-Nazi partisan resistance in the forests, or because they have the courage to tell the truth about the Holocaust. It started in 2006, when former Yad Vashem director Dr. Yitzhak Arad, an eminent Holocaust scholar, who was earlier invited to join a historical commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes, was himself suddenly and absurdly accused of being a war criminal (for having fought with the anti-Nazi partisans).

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