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Heroes, victims or villains? Irish Presentations and Representations in Latin America and the Caribbean

Morelia, Mexico, 15-18 July 2009

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Victims or Villains? – the legal defense of the Colombia Three

West, Katharine Hazel (Universidad Javeriana, Colombia)

Now that the dust has settled in a definitive manner in the case of the three Irish men tried and, later, convicted for training FARC members in IRA techniques. The case has passed through three instancias in the Colombian judicial system with the final sentencia being issued by the Corte Suprema de Justicia in 2007. Originally convicted of travelling on false passports, they were acquitted of the greater crime of training for illegal activities in the Juzgado Primero Penal del Circuito Especializado in Bogotá, the Fiscalia (the Colombian prosecution service) appealed and they were later convicted in the Tribunal Suprema in Bogotá. Their lawyers appealed to the Corte Suprema de Justicia for the casación of this conviction. (Casación is a method of annulling a judicial sentence in cases where the law has been incorrectly interpreted or applied or the sentence itself has been issued in a procedure which has not complied with the legal solemnities). This sentence was issued on March 21 in 2007 rejecting their arguments and placing an almost definitive end to the whole affair – at the very least in the Colombian courts. My proposal is to analyze the legal defence the men’s lawyers presented and place it in a Colombian legal and political context, which includes the Parapolitica scandal and the beginning of the application of the controversial Ley de Justicia y Paz (originally designed in an environment of offering transitional justice to the illegal right-wing paramilitary groups) to FARC deserters.


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