Colombia judge rules on IRA suspects

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Colombian judge found three suspected IRA men innocent on charges they trained Colombian rebels, but convicted them of traveling on false passports and identity documents, a court official said Monday.

The three were sentenced to prison terms of up to three years, eight months and will be expelled from Colombia once their terms have been completed, said court official Emilia Montanez, reading from a prepared statement.

Defendants James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley were not present as the verdict was read out following their nine-month trial. The three were arrested in August 2001 after they left a rebel safe haven that had been granted by the government during peace talks. The peace negotiations collapsed in February 2002.

Monaghan was sentenced to three years and eight months, McCauley to three years and eight days, and Connolly to two years and two months.

The court statement did not say whether the men would be credited with time served in prison during the trial.