Irish Republican News · September 15, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Colombia 3 case under discussion

The 26-County government has received ‘documentation’ from the Colombian authorities relating to three Irishmen falsely accused of training left wing rebels in the south American country.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice in Dublin said papers had been received and would be examined by officials and the Attorney General.

Meanwhile, it was reported that Dublin’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern is to hold talks with his Colombian counterpart about the three on the fringes of the UN World Summit in New York.

The Colombian government has said it wants to have Jim Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley returned to the South American country to serve 17 years in jail. Although the men were acquitted at trial, the sentence was controversially imposed in their absence last December by a panel of judges following a prosecution appeal. The move was widely seen as a political face-saving gesture on behalf of the Colombian government.

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell said he is waiting to study the documents before discussing the matter.

“I haven’t seen them yet,” he said.

“Out of respect to the Colombian authorities I won’t comment or speculate until I have the opportunity to study them in full.”

McDowell’s Progressive Democrats party has been accused of using the Colombia 3 case as part of a vendetta against Sinn Féin and Irish republicans, against the wishes of their Fianna Fail allies.

The Dublin government has previously stated that any request to return the three men would have to be considered by the country’s courts. As no extradition treaty exists between the two states, extreme doubt has been cast on whether any such move could be successful.

The three men reappeared in Ireland last month, a week after the Provisional IRA ended its 36-year armed campaign.

The three men presented themselves at Dublin garda stations in mid August for voluntary police questioning.

There have also been calls from Irish opposition parties and unionists in the North for the men either to be returned to Colombia, or to serve their jail sentences in Ireland.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News