IOL: Colombia Three to seek Govt help if convicted

 Colombia Three to seek Govt help if convicted
26/04/2004 - 10:08:53 

Three Irishmen accused of training Colombian guerrillas will appeal against any conviction, their legal representatives confirmed today.

As James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly waited for the verdict nine months after their trial ended, plans to go to the international courts - if necessary – were already being laid.

Sinn Féin Assembly member, Caitriona Ruane, who is fronting the Bring Them Home campaign, said: “We are hoping and expecting they will be released as there was no evidence to link them to the serious charges.

“If they are convicted, we will call on the Irish Government to utilise the EU presidency to have the three men safely returned home to their families immediately.”

The men were arrested in August 2001 and accused of travelling on false passports and training the Marxist FARC militia.

Colombian authorities claim FARC have applied IRA bomb technology to their attacks.

The three Irishmen have been waiting in jail for the verdict since the end of their high profile trial last August.

During their imprisonment and trial, campaigners have expressed concerns about the impartiality of the Colombian judicial system.

Some human rights activists blamed the lengthy wait for a verdict on pressure from Colombia’s political and military establishment, but judge Jairo Acosta said the delay was due to a heavy caseload.

Ms Ruane has expressed fears for the men’s safety.

The South Down MLA has travelled to Colombia for the verdict. She has called for an international escort if the men are released.

The verdict will be delivered by a senior judge at the Palace of Justice, Bogota.

If convicted, the men face up to 20 years in a Colombian jail.

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