As the Deputy will be aware, following the decision in the case by Judge Acosta on 26 April 2004, the Office of the Prosecutor-General in Colombia lodged an appeal against the verdict which acquitted the three men on the principal charge of providing training for terrorists. That appeal is being considered by a panel of judges and their decision is awaited.
Pending the outcome of the appeal, the three men have left the prison in Bogotá. However, the appeal judges ruled that they must remain in Colombia until the appeal is decided.
In a letter to the Taoiseach last July, in response to the representations made by the Taoiseach at his meeting with President Uribe on 29 May in Guadalajara, the President indicated that he was hopeful of an early decision in the appeal but he also emphasised that he could not guarantee this because of the independence of the judiciary in Colombia.
My predecessor, the Minister, Deputy Cowen, had a discussion with the Colombian Foreign Minister at the United Nations in New York on 21 September. He again stressed the importance of an early decision on the appeal. Minister Barco, while emphasising the independence of the courts in Colombia, indicated that she shared our wish for an early decision and that she was hopeful that the appeal would be concluded some time in the autumn.