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Filipino communist rebel leader appears in Dutch court on murder charges

Filipino communist rebel leader appears in Dutch court on murder charges

A Filipino communist leader appeared before a Dutch judge Friday over allegations that he ordered the killing of two former allies who had abandoned the rebel cause.
Prosecutors were due to present evidence during a closed hearing as a few dozen supporters gathered outside demanding freedom for Jose Maria Sison.
Sison was arrested Tuesday in the town of Utrecht where he has lived for 20 years. Dutch police swept through the office of his National Democratic Front and through at least seven other apartments, seizing computer hard drives, discs, files and books and questioning his aides. No one else was arrested.
He is suspected of ordering the killings in Manila of Romulo Kintanar in 2003 and Arturo Tabara in 2004, former allies who turned against the communists. The Philippines Communist Party, which the European Union designated as a terrorist group in 2002, claimed responsibility for both slayings.
Authorities have declined to disclose the nature of the evidence against Sison, but said it originated both in the Netherlands and the Philippines.
Protesters wore white headbands with the slogan, "Free Joma," using Sison's nickname. Bands blared music as the demonstrators chanted anti-fascist, pro-socialist slogans. Dutch-based leftist groups also waved banners of solidarity.
In Manila, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Sison would be given normal protection by his government during the legal proceedings.
"As a Filipino, he will be entitled to the regular consular assistance, which would include visitations and seeing to it that he is provided the legal assistance he would need," Bunye said.
He is standing trial in the Netherlands, where the alleged crime was committed. "We will just let the Dutch judicial process proceed," Bunye said.
The Philippines government has long sought to bring Sison home to face charges stemming from his leadership of the communist rebel movement, but no extradition treaty exists between the two countries. Manila removed one obstacle toward a treaty when it abolished capital punishment last year.
Sison, 68, is the founder of the Communist Party and its armed wing, the New People's Army. He describes himself as a political consultant for the National Democratic Front, which has been engaged in off-and-on peace talks with Manila to end a 39-year insurgency.


Updated : 2021-08-04 01:19 GMT+08:00