Ahern makes case for release of Colombia 3
Ahern makes case for release of Colombia 3

Supporters of three Irishmen still being held in Colombia have welcomed a meeting Saturday between the Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern with the Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, on Saturday in Mexico.

The Dublin government has now put forward a plan to the Colombian authorities that could lead to the three being released quickly from jail in Bogota and deported.

After a lengthy and controversial trial, Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley were cleared of charges that they trained rebels in the country’s civil war last month. However, the Colombian Attorney General’s office lodged an immediate appeal against the verdict.

The men remained in jail because they fear assassination by right-wing rebels after senior figures in the Colombian and US governments suggested the men were guilty.

The Dublin government has now proposed that the decision to appeal be reviewed. The Taoiseach also suggested on Saturday that the men could be released and sent back to Ireland, and then required to honour bail conditions and report frequently to police.

Colombia Three supporters have urged the Taoiseach to keep up the pressure on President Uribe. Mr Uribe said he would discuss with legal and constitutional authorities in Colombia how the legal process could now be speeded up.

Caitriona Ruane of the ‘Bring Them Home’ campaign said she had spoken to the men’s families.

“They are delighted that the Taoiseach and President Uribe have met,” she said.

“It is a very significant meeting and something we have been asking the Irish Government to seek for some time. President Uribe is a very powerful man in Colombia.

“I think what is clear to everybody, including the Irish Government, is that these men need to be brought home and I hope this meeting goes a long way to getting them back swiftly,” she said.

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