[Sinn Fein]

14th April 2003

Case against Colombia three destroyed by defence witnesses

Irish Government must intervene to secure their immediate release - Crowe

Speaking after he returned from his third trip to Colombia to attend the trial of the three Irishmen being detained there, Sinn Fein TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said, ``it is clear now more than ever that the charges against these three men were based on half-truths, innuendo and pure fantasy''. He also said ``the Irish Government must directly intervene to secure their immediate release and return to Ireland''.

Deputy Crowe said: ``It became very clear very quickly in the course last weeks trial of the Colombia Three that the prosecution case against them had absolutely collapsed. It is also clear now more then ever that the charges against these men were based on half-truths, innuendo and pure fantasy. The prosecutions two key witnesses were totally discredited by the weight of evidence, which included video evidence, offered by the defence. The fact that there are over sixty affidavits offered on behalf of the defendants as well a strong rebuttal of the so-called forensic evidence against them shows that this trial was a sham and a gross abuse of any semblance of justice from the very beginning. Nothing that was provided to the media and published without question in the aftermath the men's arrest in terms of so-called evidence, like the satellite photos, the forensic traces nor the eye-witness statements have stood up to any sort of cross examination. All have been rubbished.

``While I am personally confident that these men will eventually be found innocent of these serious charges against them I am very concerned that the trial has once again been halted. It is now not due to reconvene until June. I am also concerned at the fact that other key witnesses for the defence, including those who made the video of one of the defendants in Ireland during the time he was suppose to be in Colombia were not called to give their evidence.

``We can not allow this injustice to be maintained. The Irish Government has a duty to directly intervene with the Colombian authorities on behalf of these three Irishmen and to secure their immediate release from prison and safe return to Ireland.'' ENDS

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