Kidnap raps filed vs 5 Abu Sayyaf men for Germans’ abduction
MANILA, Philippines–Criminal charges were filed against five members of the Abu Sayyaf Group who had held captive a German couple, released them, and claimed they received a P250 million ransom last month.
The Philippine National Police’s Anti Kidnapping Group filed cases of kidnapping-for-ransom and serious illegal detention after the freed victims were able to identify their captors.
The cases against Abu Rami alias “Amir,” Mundi Sawadjaan alias “Mon,” Mudjappar Sawadjaan alias “Longhair,” Yusop Jalmaan alias “Yusofas Job,” and Roger Saji alias “Abu Jannah” were filed with the Department of Justice last October 29, or 12 days following their release in Sulu.
Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo, the AKG head, said they immediately filed the cases in the hopes of securing an arrest warrant to pursue the bandits.
“The PNP chief has ordered an intensified legal offensive and manhunt operations against the Abu Sayyaf and these kidnappers,” Fajardo told reporters in Camp Crame on Thursday.
The AKG got the identities of the kidnappers from German couple, Dr. Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen, who were released last Oct. 17 in Barangay Sandah, Patikul, Sulu.
The foreigners spent almost seven months in captivity after they were seized from their yacht in April, some 10 nautical miles off the coast of Rio Tuba in Palawan. The Abu Sayyaf group had claimed that their P250 million ransom demand was met, prompting the victims’ release.
Fajardo said AKG investigators debriefed the couple following their release and were able to get the identities of the kidnappers.
Abu Rami in particular was tagged by the victims as the negotiator, making calls to the victims’ family and demanding for ransom before releasing them.
He also reportedly goes by the name of Moammar Askali and is allegedly one of the bandit group’s commanders.
Fajardo said they included several other John Does in the DOJ complaint, pending the determination of their identities.
A bounty for the five suspects is being worked out as the PNP is verifying if there are existing warrants of arrest for the suspects.
“We hope that the reward money will come out soon so it will be a ‘happy hunting’ for them. Of course, even without the reward, we will go after them as long as we have arrest warrants against them,” Fajardo said.
Asked if the PNP could confirm that ransom was indeed paid, the AKG chief said they were still verifying the claims of the Abu Sayyaf group.
“They are bragging that they received ransom from the victims’ families. They are only implicating themselves further,” the official said.
He pointed out that even if there was no payment made, the crime of kidnapping for ransom was still committed since the captors made a demand for ransom.
Fajardo added that the Abu Sayyaf group has seemed to be worshipping money as their god, contrary to the teachings of Islam.
“They may be happy now, but the PNP is not letting up in its pursuit. Once we get the arrest warrants, we have the legal documents to operate anywhere and arrest them,” he said.
The official said law enforcement operations with the military have been ongoing in Sulu to rescue the remaining hostages.