Court frees Real IRA guns suspect

An Irish man jailed in Lithuania after being convicted of trying to buy weapons for the Real IRA has been freed by an appeal court.

Michael Campbell, who has been in prison since his 2008 arrest, smiled as police took off his handcuffs and freed him in court in the capital, Vilnius.

“I am very happy,” Campbell, 41, said, adding that he planned to return to Ireland. “I will go as soon as possible.”

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Campbell, from Co. Louth and the younger brother of alleged Real IRA founder Liam Campbell, was arrested as part of an international sting operation that included undercover British agents as he tried to purchase guns and explosives in the Baltic state.

A lower court sentenced him to 12 years in prison in 2011.

The Vilnius Appeals Court said prosecutors failed to prove ties with the Real IRA and suggested that Campbell was the victim of entrapment.

“There was no direct evidence proving Campbell’s ties with Real IRA,” judge Viktoras Kazys said.

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