Jeffrey Donaldson of Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party has said that the Colombian foreign minister is to serve papers seeking the extradition of the Colombia Three.
It was revealed last month that James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley are back in Ireland, having left Colombia last December. The men had been tried and acquitted of charges of training rebel guerrillas, but were controversially declared guilty and sentenced to 17 years in jail by an appeal court after they had left the country.
Mr Donaldson has spent the past week in Colombia meeting military and police chiefs and the country’s vice president.
Mr Donaldson said the Dublin government should use international law to extradite the men, and the absence of an extradition treaty should not prevent this.
Meanwhile, Irish Garda police have been making their own inquiries in the Colombian capital.
A file on the Garda investigation may eventually be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who will determine if criminal charges should be brought against any of the three.
No amount of decommissioning by the Provisional IRA would halt or influence the Garda investigation, Dublin’s Justice Minister McDowell said last Thursday. “It does not matter how many firearms are preserved in aspic or are destroyed, the gardai will pursue this investigation to the very end,” he said.
Republicans have said that, if the Irish government does not agree to extradite the three men, the DUP will probably use the case as a pretext for refusing to discuss the restoration of power-sharing.
There are fears that the case may form a new DUP excuse for refusing talks with Sinn Féin, even after IRA decommissioning is finished.