Protesters want observer at Colombia Three trial

Ministers were today urged to “stand up for Irish rights” by sending a legal observer to the Colombian trial of three Irish men accused of training left-wing rebels.

Ministers were today urged to “stand up for Irish rights” by sending a legal observer to the Colombian trial of three Irish men accused of training left-wing rebels.

The demand came as 200 people attended a rally outside the foreign affairs department to protest against the treatment of Jim Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Nall Connolly.

Paul Hill of the Guildford Four and members of the Dail also took part in the demonstration this afternoon.

Caitriona Ruane, spokeswoman for the Bring Them Home Campaign, called the trial in the Colombian capital Bogota a “farce“, and said the Irish government should intervene immediately.

“We’ve been campaigning for the last 19 months since the men were arrested,” Ms Ruane said. “I have been over there 10 times since, visiting them and working on their legal case.”

She said that over the past six months there had been just three days of proceedings at the court.

“It has been a farce from start to finish,” she said. “The Colombian state are fabricating a case against these men, it’s obvious to everyone.

“What we’re asking the Irish Government to do is stand up for Irish rights. These are three Irish men and the Irish government have not made one single public statement on this case.”

Ms Ruane said the campaigners had asked for a legal observer to be sent over but that the Government had not listened.

“They know that if they send over a legal observer they will realise this trial is a farce,” she added.

Mr Hill said he spent 13 years in jail before he was visited by any representative of the Irish Government.

“It’s imperative that they send a legal observer,” Mr Hill said. “They need an observer, we’re not asking for much more than that.

“I think that the government have got to take notice, but all we can do is make our voice heard and that’s what we’re doing here today.”

Monaghan, 56, McCauley, 40, and Connolly, 36, have all been charged with training the FARC guerrillas in bomb-making techniques, as well as with using false passports, and face up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

Their trial is due to resume on April 8.

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