27/04/2004

Colombia three cleared of Farc connected charges

The three Irishmen accused of training left-wing guerrillas in Colombia have been cleared in court of charges relating to the training of Farc guerillas.

However, the men, James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McAuley, all sentenced on false passports charges, look likely to be held in jail in Bogota pending the outcome of a prosecution appeal.

On the secondary charges, Monaghan received 44 months, McAuley received 36 months and Connolly received 26 months.

The three men were arrested in August 2001 as they stepped off a plane from an area which was a stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

Local authorities had claimed the men were training left-wing Farc rebels in the use of explosives and were using false documentation.

During the legal proceedings the men had refused to appear before a Colombian court because they claimed they would not receive a fair trial and that they feared for their safety.

However, last July, in their first and last court appearance, they denied all charges against them.

(MB)

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