The Colombian attorney general's office has appealed the
acquittal last month of three Irishmen it accused of teaching
bomb-making to rebels in the country's civil war.

Jim Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley will not be
allowed to leave Colombia until the appeals process runs its
course, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said.

If the case reaches the Supreme Court this could take as long as
five years, according to legal experts. The three men are
refusing to leave a Bogota jail until the government provides
them with protection against right-wing death-squads who kill those
they suspect of sympathising with the rebels.

A judge last month dismissed the state's main charges, which
were based on circumstantial evidence and testimony by alleged
rebel defectors.

They have already spent 34 months behind bars, and their lawyers
say they can leave prison for time served or on parole once they
pay a fine of about €6,000 each.

But the men's representatives say they will not leave Bogota's
Modelo prison without protection. So far the government has
refused requests for a safehouse and bodyguards, the
representatives said.

Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe has called for the campaign to bring
home the Colombia 3 to be intensified in the coming days. He was
speaking after the Colombian Attorney General's office announced
that it would be appealing against Judge Acosta'a verdict.

Deputy Crowe said:

"For almost two weeks now we have witnessed the farcical
situation whereby three Irishmen, who have been found not guilty
of the serious charges that they faced, continue to be detained
in La Modela which is one of the most dangerous prisons in the

"The men are in constant danger and the only way that their
safety can be guaranteed is if they are allowed to return home

"Given that the Attorney General has now lodged an appeal and it
is not clear how long this process will take, the men should be
allowed to travel home. I would call on the government to do all
in their power to ensure that this happens."

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