Category: Archive

Colombia 3 prosecutor seeks 20-years terms

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Summing up for the prosecution on Monday, Carlos Sanchez argued that the three men’s visits to Colombia since 1998 coincided with a massive increase in the FARC’s terrorist attacks.
“The state prosecutor ratifies its charges and requests an exemplary sentence,” Sanchez said.
Jim Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley, who were arrested in August 2001 as they tried to leave Colombia using false passports, deny being members of the IRA or instructing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — known as FARC, the nation’s most notorious rebel group.
After saying they were eco-tourists the three said their visits had been related to studying the potentials of a peace process between the FARC and the Colombian government.
They have also refused to attend the courtroom, saying the trial is politically motivated.
Sanchez dismissed their claims, but during the trial the prosecution failed to present hard evidence linking the men to actual incidents. And on several dates when the three are alleged to have been in Colombia, the defense produced witnesses placing the men in Havana or Dublin or Belfast.
The arrest of the three men shook the peace process in Northern Ireland although events were rapidly superceded by the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S.
Questions remain about the three men’s visits to FARC-controlled territory, but U.S. legal observers have also attacked the trial, saying that it has become hopelessly politicized and that the men should be allowed to return to Ireland.
Judge Jairro Acosta presides at the trial alone, without a jury, under the Colombian system.
He has said that although he is obliged to give a ruling within 15 days after hearing closing arguments, this trial is likely to take longer to reach a verdict.

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