A suspected IRA member has been charged with terrorist activity and falsifying documents in Colombia. Niall Connolly was arrested at Bogota Airport at the weekend. Two other suspected IRA members were also arrested at the same time.

Mr Connolly originally from Glenageary, in County Dublin, appeared before a prosecutor for the country's anti-terrorist unit. The 36-year-old was travelling under the name of David Bracken. The Colombian Army says that it has film of the three men training Marxist rebels.

Mr Connolly was charged with engaging in "training and military tactics for illegal terrorist activities" before Colombia's general prosecutor yesterday. He faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years if found guilty.

The judge hearing the case said that traces of explosives were found on the clothes of Mr Connolly and his fellow suspects, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley. The three gave their statements before an official of the Attorney General's Anti-Terrorist Unit, with the help of official translators.

Mr Connolly could be held for up to 18 months before a verdict is delivered. The seriousness of the charges also rules out any possibility of securing bail before trial.

The Colombian Army has said that it has secret film of the trio, showing them help train members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, commonly known as FARC. It is also thought that they were gathering information on weapons, including mortar bombs.

A senior Sinn Féin figure has said that the IRA poses no threat to the peace process. This comes despite the arrest of three of its members who are accused of training Marxist guerrillas in Colombia.

Alex Maskey, the Sinn Féin chief whip, said that the party did not know what the three were doing in Colombia, and he accused the media of trying and convicting them before the full facts had emerged. He added that the Republican movement is still wedded to the peace process.