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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
RUC aids Colombian investigation
David Bracken, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley
The men could face 16 years in jail if convicted
Two RUC officers have travelled to Colombia to support an investigation into three IRA suspects accused of training Marxist rebels.

Niall Connolly, 36 Martin McCauley, 38, and James Monaghan who is in his early 50s were arrested in Bogota earlier this month.

They are accused of training rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to make bombs and other weapons, which carries a 16-year sentence.

Under the Colombian legal system, prosecutors have 240 days to prepare the case before going to trial.

The men have also been charged with carrying false passports, to which they have already confessed and could be sentenced almost immediately.

Protected

On Wednesday, a police spokeswoman confirmed two RUC officers were in Bogota "supporting an investigation being carried out by the authorities there".

The men are being held at the maximum security La Modelo prison which will be their home for the next eight months until they go to trial.

The family of one of the men has asked the Irish Foreign Minister, Brian Cowen, to ensure that their lives are protected in prison.

Two of the men are from the Republic of Ireland and one is from Northern Ireland.

See also:

22 Aug 01 | Americas
'IRA' men in notorious prison
14 Aug 01 | World
The IRA's foreign connections
13 Jan 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Welcome to Farclandia
08 Feb 01 | Americas
New Colombia peace effort
16 Nov 00 | Americas
Colombia's peace laboratory
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