Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/11/05MANILA5097.html
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA5097
2005-11-01 09:37
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 005097

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, INR/TNC,
S/CT
NSC FOR H. MORROW

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL PGOV PINR PINS RP
SUBJECT: MANILA BOMBERS SENTENCED TO DEATH IN PHILIPPINE
COURT

REF: MANILA 5021

¶1. This message is Sensitive but Unclassified. Please
handle accordingly.

¶2. (SBU) Summary: Death sentences were handed down in a
Philippine trial court on October 28 to three extremists for
their role in the February 14, 2005, bombing of a passenger
bus in Manila. Key to the prosecutors’ case was the guilty
plea by two defendants and testimony by a
defendant-turned-state-witness. The speed of the trial and
sentencing of the three were remarkable, especially given the
normally ponderous nature of the Philippine judicial system.
End Summary.

Abu Sayyaf Member Turns State Witness
————————————-

¶3. (SBU) Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya (JI) member Rohmat
Abdurrohim a.k.a. “Zaki,” Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM)
member Angelo Trinidad, and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member
Gamal Bahran, were convicted and sentenced to death in a
Philippine trial court on October 28 for their role in the
February 14, 2005, bombing of a passenger bus that left four
dead and over 60 wounded in the greater Manila area of
Makati. Occurring simultaneously with this bombing were two
other bombings in Davao and General Santos City, Mindanao,
for which the ASG claimed responsibility (the bombings
collectively are known as the “Valentine’s Day Bombings”).
(NOTE: All of the defendants in this case are on the U.S.
Department of Defense Rewards List. The first reward of
$50,000 will be paid on November 9. Rewards for the
remaining defendants will be paid by late November. END
NOTE.)

¶4. (SBU) Philippine Department of Justice prosecutors won
the convictions for multiple murder, murder, and frustrated
murder largely due to the guilty plea of defendants Trinidad
and Bahran and the testimony of Gappal Bannah Asali a.k.a.
“Boy Negro” — an ASG member who turned state witness in
exchange for immunity. Abdurrohim, who pled not guilty but
admitted to having trained Trinidad, Bahran, and Asali in
Mindanao, is the first JI member convicted and sentenced to
death in Philippine court. Each of these death sentences —
to be carried out by lethal injection — will be reviewed by
the Supreme Court. (NOTE: The only other JI member to have
been convicted in the Philippines was Fathur Al-Ghozi — a
suspect in the December 2000 bombing of a suburban train in
Manila. In April 2002, Al-Ghozi was sentenced to 17 years in
prison for illegal possession of explosives and fraudulently
obtaining false passports. After escaping from prison in
July 2003, Al-Ghozi was killed in a firefight with Philippine
security forces in North Cotabato Province, Mindanao. END
NOTE.)

Convictions Follow “Big Catch” in Zamboanga
——————————————-

¶5. (SBU) The culmination of this five month trial came on
the heels of the October 26 arrest of RSM founder/leader,
Ahmad Santos a.k.a. Hilarion del Rosario, in Zamboanga City.
Seized at Santos’ safehouse were weapons, explosives, and
maps of Manila (see Reftel).

¶6. (SBU) Santos — described as a “big catch” by Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southcom Commander Lt. Gen.
Edilberto Adan — was allegedly planning bomb attacks at the
time of his arrest. Philippine authorities suspect that
members of Santos’ RSM were also involved in the February
2004 bombing of a ferry near Manila that left over 100 dead.

Comment:
——–

¶7. (SBU) Philippine investigators and prosecutors — who
have long been hamstrung over the lack of an anti-terrorism
law and criticized for the glacial pace of their judicial
system — have won a major victory with this case. The
handing down of death sentences to three convicted terrorists
— including a JI member — just eight months following the
deadly February 2005 “Valentine’s Day bombings” has sent the
message that it is not business as usual in the Philippines
as related to such attacks. As for the death sentences, it
appears unlikely that they will ever be carried out — the
death penalty is on the books but rarely utilized in the
Philippines.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

Jones

   

 

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