Sinn Fein has come under fire for a surprise intervention in support of a man found liable for the Omagh bombing who is now wanted in Lithuania for suspected gun running.
Dundalk farmer Liam Campbell was found liable in a landmark civil action for the RIRA Omagh bomb in 1998, which claimed 29 lives. In 2001 he was jailed in the Republic for RIRA membership.
His brother Michael was jailed in Lithuania in 2011 for trying to buy a large haul of weapons for the RIRA. Liam has been facing extradition by Irish courts to Lithuania to face charges of involvement in the same plot and has up until now been backed by Republican Sinn Fein.
But now Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar calling on him “to protect the human rights” of Mr Campbell.
Ms Anderson said: “I met with the family of Liam Campbell who is currently facing extradition to Lithuania about their concerns over the implications for his human rights.
“The Supreme Court already ruled against the extradition of Liam Campbell to Lithuania as it found that prison conditions there could breach his right to freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
It is utter hypocrisy for Sinn Fein to demand the pursuit of British soldiers through the courts, whilst at the same time intervening to demand that terror suspects be given a free pass
“There is a concern that, if extradited, he could face a lengthy period in detention before his case comes to trial in conditions that have been criticised by the UN’s Committee on Torture.”
“I have now written to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expressing my concern about Liam Campbell’s case and asking him to meet me as a matter of urgency to discuss it.”
She has also written to the EU’s Commissioner for Human Rights, she said.
But DUP East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson noted he had been found liable for the Omagh bombing.
“He is wanted as a result of allegations that he was trying to buy large amounts of arms and explosives on behalf of the Real IRA in Lithuania,” he said. “It comes as no surprise that same party who continue to glorify IRA terrorists is calling for Mr Campbell’s freedom. Whilst Campbell clings to human rights laws today, victims today will ask what about the human rights of the maimed and murdered in Omagh in 1998.”
UUP Justice spokesman Doug Beattie said it is “perhaps hardly surprising that a convicted bomber such as Martina Anderson should come to the aid of someone found liable for the Omagh bombing in a civil trial”.
He added: “It is utter hypocrisy for Sinn Fein to demand the pursuit of British soldiers through the courts, whilst at the same time intervening to demand that terror suspects be given a free pass.”
Asked to explain why it was intervening in the case now, Sinn Fein pointed to Ms Anderson’s statement.
Former IRA prisoner turned historian and journalist, Anthony McIntyre, said Sinn Fein has lobbied for dissident republicans before.
“It is a no cost approach and has the potential to take the sharp edge out of some dissident criticism of them,” he added.