17/12/2004

Colombian three flee country following sentencing

The "Colombia three" who were yesterday convicted when an appeal court overturned their acquittal on charges of training Marxists rebels have fled the country.

Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan were sentenced to 17 years in jail on Thursday. They had previously been ordered to remain in the country pending a prosecution appeal against their acquittal on charges training Farc guerrillas.

However, Attorney General Luis Camilo Osorio revealed on Friday that all three men had vanished while on bail and that a nationwide hunt had been launched following the appeal court decision.

Mr Osorio said: "We know they left the country, but we will try to find out what country has received them in order to see that justice is done.”

The men, who had been accused of being IRA members, were found guilty in the April trial of travelling on false passports.

They were acquitted of the more serious offences, but the Colombian attorney general has now successfully appealed against that decision before yesterday’s developments.

(MB/SP)

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