Colombian verdict welcomed
Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has described the decision to free the three Irishmen, who have been detained in Colombia for almost three years now, as welcome but said that there was a lot of anger that the process had taken so long and had been subject to such political interference. Mr. Kelly said "it is vital that the men now have safe escort out of the country to come home to their families."
Mr. Kelly said:
"Today's verdict from Judge Jairo Acosta is welcome and will come as a huge relief to the men's families and friends and to those who have been campaigning for their release for almost three years now. Despite the obvious collapse of the prosecution case last year it was never certain that the men would be released and sent home, there was always a concern due to the pressure on the Judge from the Colombian government and the military.
"From the very moment of their arrests Martin McCauley, Jim Monaghan and Niall Connolly were not subject to a fair legal process. Their basic rights were denied, there was extensive false reporting in the media and the investigation was closed before key witnesses were interviewed. There was also ongoing political interference in the trial.
"It is vital that the men now have safe escort out of the country to come home to their families.
"This whole episode has been a travesty for the men and their families and they should now be allowed to get on with their lives in peace." ENDS