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Bring Them Home Campaign

20 December, 2004


Press Conference, Bogota, Columbia
Bring Them Home Campaign
Monday 20th December 2004, 10:30 am (local time)

The Bring Them Home Campaign and lawyers for Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley will hold a press conference at the lawyers' office in central Bogota today, Monday 20th December 2004 at 10.30am local time.

Speaking ahead of the Press Conference chairperson of the Bring Them Home Campaign, Ms Caitriona Ruane said:

"We came out to Columbia to discuss the legal options open to the men in light of the recent judgement by the Columbian magistrates.

"In April 2004 Judge Acosta found the three men innocent on the serious charge of training the FARC and ordered an investigation into the two 'eye witnesses' brought to the trial by the Attorney General's Office.

"This very public trial lasted 10 months. The world's media, international observers, Human Rights Groups and the Irish government were present.

"It was obvious to everyone that the prosecution case collapsed and serious questions were being asked about the role of the Attorney General's Office in fabricating evidence and preparing witnesses to perjure themselves.

"Six and a half months later following an appeal by the Attorney Generals Office, we have a decision by three magistrates who met behind closed doors, who never spokes to any of the witnesses or defence lawyers.

"It is also important to note that in this appeal no new evidence was presented.

"The judgement is 144 pages long, 32 of these pages repeated the prosecution arguments, and not even one page in this judgement was given to the defence

arguments.

"The magistrates overturned Judge Acosta's judgement and sentenced the three men to 17 years and 6 months.

"This is a political judgement made by the Columbian Authorities.

"What we now have is the Attorney General Luis Camilo Oforio and his office trying to drum up international support for this decision. His record stands, he is the problem and is bringing disrepute top the Columbian legal system.

"This is a travesty of justice of international proportions.

"Having met with the lawyers we are now exploring every legal option left open to the men. The lawyers are currently consulting experts in relation to this.

"We are planning to bring the case of these three Irishmen and EU citizens to the EU parliament.

"This campaign will continue, intensify and internationalise these cases. We are not prepared to accept this blatant violation of the rights of Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley." ENDS

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