Judge to decide on extradition of Omagh suspect

Liam CampbellOne of the alleged Omagh bombers is being kept behind bars in the North while a judge decides whether a legal bid to extradite him to Lithuania to face arms smuggling charges should be held in Belfast or Dublin.

Dundalk farmer Liam Campbell, 46, was arrested in Co Armagh last Friday when police rammed his car after discovering he had crossed the border from the Republic of Ireland.

He was questioned for four days under UK terrorism legislation about the Omagh bomb 11 years ago before being freed without charge then immediately re-arrested under a European warrant issued by the Lithuanian authorities last year.

He is wanted in the east European state over a foiled plot to bring arms and explosives into Ireland two years ago.

It is alleged he and two other men, one his brother Michael, conspired to obtain weapons to bring into Ireland for the Real IRA in 2006 and 2007.

However he had previously been arrested in the Republic of Ireland under the warrant and extradition proceedings have been under way in Dublin since January.

Campbell’s lawyer Peter Corrigan said it would be “absurd” if the extradition proceedings were restarted afresh in Belfast.

He said there was no logic in abandoning the huge amount of work and affidavits that had already been drawn up for the proceedings in the Republic of Ireland.

At a hearing earlier this week it was claimed he had breached his bail conditions by crossing the border – he said he was running his wife to work – but today Recorder Tom Burgess was told he had not broken bail conditions by crossing the border.

The judge has been in contact with the Lithuania Prosecutor General who, he said, was of the opinion it was for the UK to execute the extradition warrant because Campbell is in their jurisdiction.

But Mr Corrigan argued that the warrant was not valid because it had already been executed in another EU member state – the Republic of Ireland.

“The whole foundation of this extradition warrant is based on the breach of his bail which was wrong.”

He said if his client did not return to Dublin for the next hearing he could potentially forfeit a £50,000 surety he had put up as part of his bail conditions.

Barrister Steven Ritchie representing the Lithuanian authorities said proceedings should take place in Belfast.

“He was arrested under a warrant that has not been dealt with anywhere,” he said.

He added: “The court has no power to take him to the border and hand him over.”

Judge Burgess said he would consider the issues over the weekend and make a decision on Monday.