Monday, August 29, 2005

FF backbenchers revolt threat over Colombia Three

Niamh Connolly:

Fianna Fáil backbenchers are threatening a revolt if legal moves are made to extradite the Colombia Three.

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, last week raised the possibility of sending Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan back to Colombia to serve their 17 years and six months sentences for training Farc rebels.

“There would be an expectation internationally that whatever remedies are provided for under international law or domestic law would be fully used to deal with that situation,” said McDowell.

“If there is a case to be made for their extradition to Colombia and if it's lawful under Irish law, that is something which may well happen.”

Colombia's vice-president Francisco Santos last week said his government would be seeking the men's extradition.

But most Fianna Fáil deputies who spoke to The Sunday Business Post last week ruled out extraditing the men, citing concerns about Colombia's human rights record.

One backbencher summed up the consensus view: “I don't think that any Irish person would want to see another Irish person incarcerated in Colombia, based on what we know of human rights in that country.

“But if people have committed an offence, let them pay the price. If it's possible for that price to be paid at home, that's where it should be paid.”

There is no extradition treaty between Ireland and Colombia, though the justice minister indicated last week that such a treaty could be established. But one senior Fianna Fáil party source observed: “There are reasons why we don't have an extradition treaty with Colombia.”

Informed sources believe that any legislation introducing an extradition treaty would not apply retrospectively and therefore not cover the three men. They were originally found not guilty by a court in Colombia, but the verdict was overturned by an appeal heard in private.

Government bites its tongue in Colombia Three debate

Thanks a million, Michael McDowell

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'How Many More Killings Will It Take?' - Asks Derry MP


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