Colombia’s war crimes tribunal on Tuesday granted amnesty to three former IRA members who had been sentenced to prison for assisting the now-defunct FARC rebel group in bomb-making.
Irishmen Martin John McCauley, Niall Terrence Connolly and Seamus O‘Muineachain received amnesty after the court ruled that — even though they weren’t members of the FARC — their crimes were directly related to the armed conflict.
The former IRA members were arrested in 2001 and sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2004 on fraud charges. By then, they had already fled to Ireland, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced.
“The Colombia Three” were granted parole on the condition they would carry out no activity in opposition to the state and would be made available to foreign authorities if requested.
McCauley, Connolly and O‘Muineachain were arrested in 2001 after spending time with the FARC to teach the Colombian guerrillas bomb-making techniques they had learned during “The Troubles” in northern Ireland.
According to Colombian authorities, the three had been seen in a demilitarized zone in southern Colombia where the FARC and the government of former President Andres Pastrana were holding peace talks at the time.
The former IRA members were the last remaining foreigners with pending prison sentences for crimes related to Colombia’s armed conflict after a 2016 peace deal between the FARC and former President Juan Manuel Santos allowed the release of dozens of foreign members of the former guerrilla group.