BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: N Ireland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 17:18 GMT
Colombia trial adjourned
Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley
The three men say conditions for a fair trial do not exist
The trial of three Irishmen arrested in Colombia on charges of training Marxist guerrillas has been adjourned until next month.

Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan have refused to attend the court, saying they do not recognise the legitimacy of the Colombian judicial system and that the conditions for a fair trial do not exist.

The trial, which resumed on Friday after a one day adjournment, will not now begin again until 25 March.

On Friday, the main prosecution witness, Edwin Giovanni Rodriguez, took the stand under heavy security and wearing a bullet proof vest under his jacket

He said he had still not been placed in a witness protection program despite threats to him and his six-year-old son by the FARC.

Concerns

Judge Jairo Acosta has ruled that any evidence which may be seen in Colombia may not be reported.

Two of the four prosecution witnesses gave evidence on Wednesday before the trial was adjourned for a day

Caitriona Ruane, of the Bring Them Home Campaign, said the defence had concerns that another prosecution witness is to give evidence in private in another Colombian city.

The Irish Ambassador to Mexico, who is attending the trial, has been asked by the Irish Government to raise some of those concerns with the Colombian government.

During Wednesday's hearing, the court heard evidence from the officer who arrested the three Irishmen in August 2001.

Rebels from the  Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
The men are accused of training FARC rebels

The case has been mired in controversy since the Irishmen were arrested in August 2001.

If convicted, the three men, all allegedly linked to the IRA, could face 20 years in a Colombian prison.

The trial restarted on Wednesday after almost descending into farce in December.

The judge had to call an adjournment as the prosecution's case was in danger of collapsing, with two of its key witnesses refusing to testify, saying they feared for their lives.

The three men were arrested as they stepped off a plane from a stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

They are accused of training FARC rebels in explosive and terrorist techniques, and security forces have blamed this training for the recent wave of car bombings and mortar attacks in the cities.

The authorities have moved the Irishmen out of Bogota to the country's toughest prison in the mountain province of Boyaca.

The defence team regards the next three days as the crucial part of the men's trial.

See also:

04 Dec 02 | N Ireland
03 Dec 02 | N Ireland
13 Jun 02 | N Ireland
07 Jan 02 | Americas
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more N Ireland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes