German’s execution postponed after delivery of some money
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—The Abu Sayyaf has postponed the execution of German hostage Viktor Stefan Okonek after receiving part of the ransom money it had demanded, an emissary said Friday.
Okonek was to have been executed Friday but before the 5 p.m. extended deadline lapsed, the Islamic extremist group received some money, according to one Al Kataib, who said he was an aide to Abu Rami, spokesman of Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron, who had said the group would execute the German if no money arrived by 3 p.m. Friday.
On Thursday, Rami said the Abu Sayyaf, which had demanded P250 million for the release of Okonek and fellow German Henrite Dielen, had extended the deadline by two hours.
Al Kataib did not say how much money the group got and who it came from.
But a government source told the Inquirer that the Abu Sayyaf agreed to postpone the scheduled beheading of Okonek after an estimated amount of P60 million was delivered as partial payment of the ransom demand.
The source said another round of negotiations was being held.
Apart from the ransom demand, the Abu Sayyaf wanted Germany to withdraw support for the multi-nation bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“The beheading will not push through,” the source said.
But he made it clear that under the conditions set by the Abu Sayyaf, the government and the family of the captives would still be made to pay the balance of P190 million.
Asked where the P60 million given to the extremist group came from, the source said he was not certain.
Al Kataib said Rami will provide more details in due time.
Okonek had been made to sit in a deep hole that the Abu Sayyaf had dug as his grave.
Rami had earlier said that the military should back off from rescue plans if the government wanted Okonek to live longer.
He said soldiers were nearing their camp and the Abu Sayyaf did not want harm to befall the German.
“If something happens to this person before the execution they should blame the AFP,” Rami told Radio Mindanao Network here.
He said the Abu Sayyaf would defend its camp at all cost.
“We are not afraid to counter them. We will kill Okonek before they can rescue him,” Rami added.
When he was also put on the air, Okonek said he feared for his life because the Abu Sayyaf threatened to kill him if soldiers attacked.
He said he was surrounded by at least 20 young men armed with automatic weapons.
“They need to withdraw. They are surrounding us and this is not good. We will kill the German if they won’t back off,” Rami said.
Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said a Special Action Committee led by the provincial governor of Sulu had been formed and was tasked to secure the release of Okonek and the other hostages from the Abu Sayyaf.