Freed Irish priest ‘treated well by Muslim kidnappers’

| November 12, 2009

Rev Michael Sinnott was freed in the early hours of Thursday morning. He said he was not harmed by his captors but was now "extremely exhausted".

"For long periods of time we had nothing at all to do, so we sat around in the hammocks and talked at length about religion," said Rev Sinnott, who was abducted on October 11 while taking a walk in his garden.

"We discussed ideology and they explained to me what they believed and I then explained what I believed. There were no problems and they treated me very well despite the difficult conditions.

"It soon emerged they wanted money and they also said they wanted to get their message out in the international press. I think they were nomads from Mindanao (a group seeking land rights)."

The kidnappers' $2 million ransom demand was apparently not paid by either the Philippine or Irish governments.

Rev Sinnott, a Columban Missionary, stated that he was sure his captors were not part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – the Muslim secessionist group suspected by Philippine authorities of being behind the kidnap.

"I don't know who they were but it was not the M-I-L-F. We were very sure of that," he said.

Rev Sinnott, originally from Wexford, said his captors could not have made the conditions any better, that they were well organised and fed him sandwiches "ordered specially".

Despite the ordeal and the heart condition he suffers that led friends and family to fear he would die in captivity, Rev Sinnott said he has no plans to stop his work as a missionary.

"My work is in Pagadian. If I can, I will go back there, of course, because that is where I am needed. I hope to carry on working for another few years at least" he said.

He joked that "because I am a bit old and I found hiking a bit difficult at times, I think that they'd be glad to kidnap a younger man next time".

Rev Sinnott's release came hours before the arrival of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Manila.

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Category: Mission Trip/Missionary Security

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