A Colombian judge has decided that three Irishmen must remain in
the country pending an appeal by the state prosecutor against
their acquittal on charges of training rebels in the country's
civil war.

Judge Jairo Accosta yesterday decided that James Monaghan,
Martin McCauley, and Niall Connolly could not leave Colombia
pending the appeal process, which could take up to a year.

The three were convicted on a lesser charge of using false
documentation, and given sentences of between two and four

Judge Accosta said he was not satisfied the men would return.
While they could be released on bail, their defence team says
their lives would be in danger in a country where right-wing
paramilitaries have targeted the men throughout their
incarceration. The three have refused to leave their prison
without protection against the death squads.

Ms Catriona Ruane of the 'Bring Them Home' campaign, said she
was shocked by the ruling. "I can't believe that we have three
men imprisoned for the last three weeks because the Colombian
state failed to produce an adequate security plan. The dogs on
the street know there is no safe place for these men in

She added: "They have been found innocent by a Judge. The
Colombian Government has refused to accept the decision of the
judge and continues to make prejudical statements. President
Uribe, Ex-President Pastrana, General Mora, by their prejudicial
comments have created a situation where there is no safe place
in Colombia for these three Irish citizens."

"There is no justice in Colombia, we are calling on the
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to intervene directly with President
Uribe and the International Community.

"These men should be home with their families. What is happening
is a travesty of justice."

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