More delay for Colombia 3 after third Christmas in jail

The three Irish men held in Colombia - Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and Jim Monaghan - have spent their third Christmas in jail after a further delay in their trial verdict.

The trial of the three men held in Colombia on charges of training guerrillas ended on August 1 and the men have now waited over six months for a judgement. The judge initially stated that there would be a decision before the end of the year, but has now changed this to February.

Over a dozen international observers, including lawyers, politicians and human rights workers, have found that there is no evidence to substantiate the charges levelled against the men''.

Supporters of the men have now called on the Irish Government to use the European Presidency to ensure justice for the three.

``It is contemptuous the way the Colombian Authorities have treated these men, the International observers and the Irish Government,'' said Caitriona Ruane, spokesperson for the Bring them Home campaign.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, has said he has noted the contents of a report by international observers, which calls for the three men to be released immediately. In a reponse to a parliamentary question, Cowen said that he had noted the contents of the report but would not comment until the judge issues his verdict in the case.

The observers' report entitled Colombia 3; Judge for Yourself, includes detailed analysis of the legal case and the trial process by a number of lawyers who attended the hearings.

It also includes contributions by US human rights advocates who criticised prejudicial statements by senior Colombian political and military figures during the trial.

Ruane added: ``These men have spent their third Christmas in jail away from their families who are deeply concerned for their safety and well-being.

``We are glad that the minister has read the document and noted its contents and we can only hope that Judge Acosta will make his decision based on the law and will not be subjected to any outside political or military pressure.''

``It is obvious to the world that there is no evidence to substantiate the charges. The Colombian army and Attorney General's office have fabricated a case against the three men. This is obvious to everyone. ``

``Justice delayed is justice denied. What is happening here is wrong''

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© 2004 Irish Republican News