Minister Cowen's comments on the outcome of the trial of the three Irishmen in Colombia
The trial of Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley in Colombia has now ended and the men have been found not guilty of the major offence with which they were charged, that of training terrorists, and convicted on the lesser charge of travelling on false documents.
Commenting on the outcome, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., said
“I note the judgement of the court in this case, including the men’s acquittal on the charge of training terrorists. I hope that the men will soon be reunited with their families, who have borne the strain of their detention for such a long period.
I am grateful to the Colombian Authorities for the assistance they have provided to our Officials who have monitored this case closely from the start and have provided all possible consular assistance to both the men and their families.
The Department and the Embassy in Mexico have been in close contact today with the Honorary Irish Consul and with the Dutch Embassy in Bogota, and also with the Colombian Authorities, with a view to ensuring that the safety of the men continues to be fully assured and that their departure from the country will be facilitated in every way possible."
Note for Editors
Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley were arrested at Bogota Airport by military police in August 2001. The offences with which they were charged were (1) travelling on false documents and (2) providing training to terrorists. The trial took place between October 2002 and August 2003.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has monitored this case closely from the start, and provided all possible consular assistance to both the men and their families. The Irish Ambassador to Mexico, who is also accredited to Colombia, acted as the Minister’s official observer at the trial, which was also attended by a number of international observers, including members of the Oireachtas.