Colombia 3 verdict expected on Monday

A verdict in the case of the three Irishmen charged with training Colombia’s FARC rebels and using false passports is expected on Monday.

The judge in the case of three Irishmen charged with training rebels in Colombia, Dr Jairo Acosta, has said he will deliver his judgment on Friday or Monday, with Monday now the expected date.

The Sinn Féin Assembly member and human rights activist, Caitriona Ruane, and Irish Senator Mary White have travelled to Bogota for the verdict. This was due to be delivered in the form of a letter to the three men, but the judge has now indicated his intention to announce it in the Palace of Justice in Bogota.

The three men known as the Colombia 3 - Jim Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley - could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

The men were arrested in August 2001 in the open Peace Zone. Peace advocates from around the world have also traveled there, including elected political leaders and human rights activists from around the world. The three men declare they were in the zone to share their experiences from the Irish peace process and to bring back to Ireland what they learned from the Colombian peace process, which was ongoing.

The trial was marked by a paucity of evidence and was dominated by political concerns.

The prosecution’s case was filled with inconsistencies and allegations refuted by video evidence, countered by testimony from credible defense witnesses, including Irish government diplomats and human rights organization workers.

Among the key issues in the trial was the credibility of alleged former members of the FARC who claimed to have seen the three men. This was strongly disputed by the defence.

In addition, Dr Keith Borer, a prominent forensic scientist, examined all the materials in regard to the forensic tests carried out at the US Embassy, and stated in court that there was no forensic evidence against the men.

Senator White has attended many sessions of the trial, which concluded in early August last year. “I didn’t see any evidence to prove they were guilty of the main offence they were being accused of, namely training the FARC.”

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