'Colombia Three' go on trial

Three alleged IRA members were due to go on trial in Colombia today charged with training anti-government rebels in bomb-making techniques.

Three alleged IRA members were due to go on trial in Colombia today charged with training anti-government rebels in bomb-making techniques.

James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley have been held in custody since they were arrested in August last year at Bogota airport.

They were charged with training the leftist Farc rebels and travelling on false passports.

If convicted they could face between 15 and 20 years in jail.

After their arrests the Colombian authorities asked gardaí in Dublin and police Belfast to help identify the men from passport photographs and video footage.

During a preliminary hearing in Bogota last month the three men refused to leave their cells, claiming they did not think they would get a fair trial.

They are again expected to attempt to boycott the trial when it begins today.

Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe and Independent Finian McGrath arrived in Colombia last Thursday to observe the trial. They were accompanied by Paul Hill, one of the Guildford Four.

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