Campaign continue call for repatriation of Republican prisoner

August 12, 2013

The campaign to repatriate Republican prisoner Michael Campbell from a squalid Lithuanian  prison continues unabated, despite last month’s hearing not managing to progress matters significantly.

A further hearing has been arranged to take place on 30th August and campaigners are eager to reiterate the intolerable conditions in which Campbell is being kept.

Campbell was arrested in January 2008 during a sting operation that involved MI5, Gardaí and Lithuanian police.  He denied the charge of attempting to procure weapons for the Real IRA, saying he travelled to Vilnius to purchase counterfeit cigarettes and that he was the victim of a conspiracy by British and Lithuanian Intelligence services.

He has been imprisoned in Lithuania since his arrest and, following a protracted and difficult trial which lasted over two years, he was handed a 12 year sentence.  He is being held in Lukiskes prison in Vilnius in conditions described in a 2010 report by Professor Rod Morgan – a renowned Home Office Advisor to the UK Criminal Justice Inspectorate – as “inhuman and degrading.”

According to a campaign spokesperson, the squalid conditions of his incarceration have only worsened over the summer months with the heatwave in Lithuania adding to the stifling hot conditions within the prison.

“The prison is plagues with mosquitos during the summer months and, without access to adequate or sufficient medical treatment, suffering a number of mosquito bites has left Michael feeling extremely unwell and is only adding to his daily torture. As we already know, Michael is surviving on meagre rations, which does not help!” said the spokesperson.

Such is the overcrowding problem in the prison that there are more prisoners than beds in his cell and Michael is forced to sleep on the floor each night.

Michael’s plight has caught the attention of politicians and institutions who have pledged support for his repatriation on humanitarian grounds.

Just last month, Newry and Mourne District Council passed a motion calling for his immediate repatriation.

Member of the European Parliament (‘MEP’) Martina Anderson has produced an article and signed the on-line petition calling for his repatriation and a cross party delegation of Teachta Dála (‘TD’) from Dáil Éireann are travelling to Lithuania to visit Michael in advance of and for the next hearing.

Despite the intervention of these parties being a clear indication of the validity of the repatriation campaign, Campbell remains incarcerated in conditions the group insists are contravening human rights laws.

The spokesperson said,

“More needs to be done to address this appalling situation.

“Every individual needs to write to the Lithuanian authorities and court service with a request that they stop this charade and implement the European Prisoner Transfer Agreement (particularly given the fact they now have Presidency of the EU). The Lithuanian authorities must be ordered to bring the current farcical set of hearings to a close and to recognise the inhuman and degrading conditions that Michael, an Irish national, is being kept in.

“Ultimately there should be no barrier to repatriating Michael to Ireland to serve the remainder of his sentence.  We would ask anyone who wishes to show their support, to join our campaign to bring Michael Campbell home to serve out the rest of his sentence with dignity.”