Category: Archive

Colombia trial halted until February

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

In a tediously slow proceeding, the judge in the case extended the time for the prosecutors to produce their witnesses. Judge Jairo Acosta pronounced the court would next sit publicly to hear the case the Feb. 5.
On Monday, however, the court was told, Colombia’s FARC rebels have been receiving bomb-making help from foreign groups such as the IRA. That came from the prosecution’s only witness, a Colombian military officer and former paratrooper, Major Carlos Matias, who outlined the alleged links between the IRA and FARC in the trial of the three Irishmen who are accused of training the terrorists in the South American country last year.
James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley were arrested in Bogota in August 2001 after visiting a Switzerland-sized rebel safe haven in Southern Colombia. Prosecutors say the three trained insurgents in explosives and other terrorist techniques.
Matias told the court that: “On his own, a guerilla didn’t have the capacity to acquire this technology,” describing recent advances the rebels have made in bomb-making techniques.
“It had to have come from somewhere. [The rebels] have taken experience from other foreign groups like ETA and the IRA.”
Matias had also said that a terrorist training manual was found with the FARC and that it could only have been given to the rebels by the IRA. In fact, the manual can be ordered over the internet on Amazon.com.
“This is a travesty of justice,” Caitriona Ruane, spokeswoman for the Bring Them Home campaign that represents the three men said after the proceedings adjourned Tuesday.
“We brought our witnesses from Ireland,” she continued, “and we arrive at the
court and there are no prosecution witnesses; if this happened in any other
country in the world, those men would be coming on the home with us on
“It’s very disappointing that the prosecution has not been able to deliver
the witnesses,” said Senator Mary White of Fianna F

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