MANILA, Philippines – Criminal charges have been filed against 54 people for the abduction and beheading of sawmill workers in Butig, Lanao del Sur, in 2016.
The Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) charged the suspects – who reportedly had links to the Maute terrorist group – with 4 counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention and two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with murder before the Regional Trial Court Branch 11 of Malabang, Lanao del Sur.
Among those charged is Dr Russel Langi Salic, who is also facing charges in the United States for allegedly helping fund a terror plot that would’ve included attacks on TImes Square in New York and on the city subway.
On Aprl 4, 2016, a number of sawmill workers were taken in Butig, Lanao del Sur:
- Gabriel Permitis
- Alfredo Cano-os
- Adonis Mendez
- Julito Janubas
- Jaymart Capangpangan
- Salvador Janubas
Capangpangan and Salvador Janubas were beheaded 6 days later.
The remaining victims were released with the assistance of their employer, Hadja Anisah Gunda.
Gunda and the survivors filled an affidavit identifying their abductors, who included Salic, whom the victims said they saw cleaning firearms during their detention.
The victims added Salic asked the Maute soldiers to guard them well to prevent escape.
Salic denied the allegations in a counter-affidavit.
He said he had nowhere been near Butig, and was instead working as a physician at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) in Cagayan de Oro City.
Salic added he went to Palawan on April 5 to attend the 26th Philippine Orthopedic Association’s mid-year convention. He said he returned to NMMC on April 10, based on his Daily Time Record.
The complainants held they had no reason to implicate Salic in their abduction, since none of them personally knew him.
The DOJ indicted the accused, saying: “Criminal liability exists notwithstanding non-participation in every detail in the execution of the crime… Where conspiracy has been established, it is unnecessary to pinpoint who among the accused inflicted the fatal blow…. The inaction of a respondent where he could have prevented the crime only reveal his complicity thereto.”
The DOJ resolution is signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, and recommended for approval by OIC-Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Amor Robles. It was approved by acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan.
The US government is seeking the extradition of Salic, who was implicated according to the testimony of Canadian El Bahnasawy.
Bahnasawy was arrested in New Jersey in May 2016, and pled guilty to terrorism charges. – Rappler.com