Belfast Telegraph

**Interesting that BT's original headline says 'US Backs...' as if everyone is behind it. I have changed it to reflect the actuality.

US Congressman backs Colombia Three sentences

By Sean O'Driscoll in New York
18 December 2004

The Chairman of the House of Representatives International Relations Committee has welcomed the sentencing of the Colombia Three and said that there was "no benign explanation" for their presence in Colombia.

Congressman Henry Hyde, who chaired hearings in April 2002 on the IRA's involvement with Farc, said that the Colombia courts had provided "appropriate punishment" for the men, for training terrorists who target innocent civilians and traffic in deadly drugs.

In a statement issued today, Congressman Hyde said that "there never was a benign explanation on why two IRA explosive experts using false passports were wondering around the jungle with known members of the narco-terrorist guerrilla group, Farc."

He was referring to two of the men, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley, who have previous convictions for IRA involvement.

He added: "The Colombian court decision may provide the answer and appropriate punishment for training terrorists who target innocents and traffic in deadly drugs to Americans and Europeans alike."

The International Relations Committee is Republican-controlled and has a strong influence on shaping the House of Representatives' attitudes to global politics.

During the April 2002 hearings, several Congressmen, most notably Massachusetts Democrat William Delahunt, had questioned the legality of the arrests.

Yesterday, Congressman Delahunt said that he had no idea as to whether the men were innocent or guilty, but said that he questioned the Colombian legal system.

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