The basis for the decision of a Colombia court to reverse a lower court’s decision and find three Irish men guilty of training rebels has proved shocking.
The process by which a verdict of not-guilty for the ‘Colombia 3’ became a guilty one on appeal has emerged in the text of the verdict of two of the judges in the appeal tribunal.
Their verdict, clearly motivated by political concerns, depends on idle speculation and circumstantial evidence which would not be accepted in an Irish court.
Whereas Judge Jairo Acosta, who oversaw the original trial, ordered two state informers to be investigated for perjury, the appeal tribunal accepted their “contradictions” which it blamed on the trauma of living in rebel-held territory.
The three Irishmen, James Monaghan, Martin McCauley, and Niall Connolly, were sentenced to over 17 years’ imprisonment. They are currently exploring a range of international legal options, and are no longer in Colombia.
In one example of the judges’ logic, hey questioned how the men could have saved the money to travel to South America. They wrote: “None of these three people could satisfactorily show what they do in their countries of origin that would be able to fund the costs of a trip around the world, stopping off in several cities in various countries, if as they say they are merely travelling”.
In regard to one of the informers, the appeal judges explained numerous inaccuracies, particularly with regard to dates, with the comment: “This is not important information for him and it makes no difference to him whether it is one year or another.”
Summing up, the tribunal states: “Although the individual pieces of evidence do not stand up completely on their own, the analysis should be carried out of all of the pieces of evidence together. The role of the accused in the crime or crimes can be certified from such an analysis.”
In conclusion, the judges also could not understand the men’s interest in Colombian politics. They declared: “The Irishmen did not come to learn about the peace process when the peace process in their own country was far more advanced.”