0 IRA και οι FARC

Ο ADAMS ΕΧΕΙ ΧΕΣΜΕΝΟΥΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΑΜΕΡΙΚΑΝΟΥΣ

Adams says no to Colombia hearing Rosie Cowan, Ireland correspondent Wednesday April 24, 2002 The Guardian The Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, was yesterday under fire at home and America over his decision not to appear before an influential US congressional hearing on the IRA's alleged links with Marxist guerrillas in Colombia. The US House of Representatives international relations committee had invited Mr Adams to Washington to answer questions on global terrorism and drug links at a one-day hearing today, which will include the case of three Irish republicans accused of helping Farc rebels in the South American country. He admitted he had been tempted to go and fight Sinn Fein's corner but made up his mind to decline, saying he was concerned that some elements were intent on using the hearing to damage the Northern Ireland peace process and that lawyers had advised him his attendance could prejudice the men's chances of a fair trial. Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley were arrested last August after they left the Farc-controlled zone and are now in jail awaiting a non-jury trial on charges of teaching the Colombian terrorists bomb-making techniques, which they deny. In a statement, US congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the international relations committee, said the hearing would have given Mr Adams an opportunity to explain what two IRA explosives experts and Sinn Fein's Cuban representative were doing in a rebel region of Colombia with a group which poses a direct threat to US national interests. Mr Adams admitted the trio's visit to Colombia had been ill-advised, and had he or anyone else in the Sinn Fein leadership known about it in advance he would have cautioned them not to go. But he insisted he believed the IRA's assertion last September that it had not sent anyone to Colombia to train or engage in military cooperation with any group. "Irish republicans pose no threat to national security interests in Colombia," he said. "Irish republicans are resolutely opposed to the scourge of drugs. Sinn Fein is also implacably opposed to international terrorism." But with republicans under fierce pressure over allegations that the IRA was involved in the Castlereagh break-in, last week's murder of a Catholic taxi driver in Co Tyrone and the compilation of intelligence data on Tory politicians, others were quick to condemn Mr Adams' refusal to testify. David Burnside, the hardline South Antrim Ulster Unionist MP, said: "Gerry Adams is keen enough to go to the US to discredit Northern Ireland's police force but he runs scared from the prospect of a grilling on the IRA. Sinn Fein is not telling the truth, the whole truth or anything like the truth." James Leslie, a Stormont junior minister and supporter of leader David Trimble, called it an "affront to the biggest democracy in the world". Referring to next Monday's Stormont debate calling on the Northern Ireland secretary, John Reid, to reassess the IRA ceasefire, Mr Leslie said: "Adams may not be prepared to stand up and be counted in the USA but he will not be able to evade scrutiny here on Monday." Alex Attwood of the SDLP said the Sinn Fein leader had let down the American people, who would now think he had something to hide.

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