Irish trio sentenced in Colombia

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Arrest warrants have been issued for the three men

Three Irishmen initially acquitted of training Marxist rebels in Colombia have now been sentenced to 17 years following an appeal.

The prosecution successfully appealed the acquittal of Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan.

Arrest warrants have been issued for the three men, who have remained on bail in Colombia.

The three, who had been accused of being IRA members, were found guilty of travelling on false passports.

They were acquitted of the more serious offences by a lower court earlier this year, but the Colombian Attorney General has now successfully appealed against that decision.

Sinn Fein MLA Catriona Ruane of the Bring them Home campaign said Thursday's verdict was "military justice" which would be fought.


A judge had ordered them to remain in the country pending an appeal by the prosecution against their not guilty verdict on training Farc guerillas.

McCauley, 41, is from Lurgan in County Armagh, Monaghan, 58, is from County Donegal and Connolly, 38, is from Dublin.

The three had been detained at Bogota's El Dorado airport in August 2001 as they were about to board a flight out of the country.

Their arrest led to speculation that Irish republicans had formed links with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

The main charge against them was that they had been teaching the rebels the techniques of urban terrorism.

The Irishmen strenuously denied this, saying they were in the area to monitor the fledgling peace process as well as being eco-tourists.

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