Belfast Telegraph

Where are the Colombia 3?
Supporters plan appeal to US-based body

By Ben Lowry
20 January 2005

The whereabouts of the three republicans convicted of training terrorists in South America remained a mystery today, as their supporters "actively" consider an appeal to a pan-American body.

Jim Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly have been on the run since last month, when they were sentenced to 17 years in prison in Colombia.

When asked today about the three fugitives, a spokesperson for Interpol, which operates in 182 member states, said the policing group does not comment on specific cases or individuals except in special circumstances and with approval of the member country concerned.

In December, an appeal court judged that the three Irishmen had given advice to the Farc rebel group, who have been implicated in killing hundreds of civilians in car bombings.

The trio, who were arrested in 2001, had earlier been acquitted of the main charges against them.

The head of the Bring Them Home campaign, Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane, has insisted that she has no idea as to the whereabouts of the three fugitives.

She said today that there was no new information on Connolly, Monaghan or McCauley.

"We are currently exploring what court to take the case of the men to," she said.

The main appeal option is the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, based in Washington DC.

The commission, which seeks to "promote and protect human rights in the inter-American system", is an autonomous organ of the Organisation of American States.

The South Down MLA added: "We are actively considering the commission at present."

Any legal efforts to overturn the Colombian court decision to jail the men are expected to last several years.

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