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Sinn Féin TD to visit Colombia for final phase of trial

25 July, 2003

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe will join an International delegation tomorrow (Saturday 26th) and fly out to Colombia for the final phase of the trial of the three Irishmen Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley, currently being held in La Modelo Prison Bogota. Speaking before departing to attend the trial summary the Dublin South West deputy said:

"The only logical, just, outcome to this trial is that these three men will be acquitted of the very serious charges against them. The prejudicial comments made against the men, both before and during this trial, by large sections of the media and the political and military establishment in Colombia rendered the chances of a fair trial impossible. Having attended all stages of this long and drawn-out process and having listened carefully to the so-called evidence against them, I am convinced that these men are innocent and should never have stood trial in the first place.

The flawed and flimsy evidence produced in the course of this trial raises many questions about the Colombian justice system and particularly about the ability of the judge to distance his office from all insidious external influences. The central question still surrounds this case and that is, can these men receive a fair trial.

"It has now been two years since their well publicised arrest. Niall Connolly Jim Monaghan and Martin McCauley have been held in cramped and extremely dangerous conditions. There is no safe jail in Colombia particularly for anyone involved in this high profile case. Their lives have been under constant threat since their incarceration and have come under bomb attack on at least one occasion. They have been told that they will be killed by right wing paramilitaries if they are found guilty.

I would once again call on the Irish Government to pursue with vigour the release of these three Irish citizens and seek a commitment from the Colombian Authorities for their immediate release and return home." ENDS

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