MILF rebels charged with priest’s kidnapping

| November 17, 2009

MANILA : Three Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and several individuals have been charged with the kidnapping of Irish Columban Father Michael Sinnott.

Two of the men were named as Saidamen Montaner and James Palwa.

"We have strong evidence against them and we have witnesses," Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa told "The Philippine Daily Inquirer".

"We've filed charges against the three identified MILF personalities and several other John Does (unnamed individuals) for kidnapping with serious illegal detention and investigations are still continuing," he said.

The police chief has asked Father Sinnott to make a statement.

The news of charges came as about 1,000 government troops launched an operation Nov. 16 at the boundary of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte provinces in an attempt to capture those responsible.

Armed men seized Father Sinnott, 89, from the Columban Fathers' house in Pagadian City, southern Philippines, on Oct. 11. He was held for 30 days in the jungle and released to the MILF.

The kidnappers had been demanding a US$2 million ransom but that was reportedly not paid.

The priest told a press conference in Manila on the day of his release that several groups had taken control of him. One "very organized" group that held him said they were indigenous people led by a certain "Kikoy" who were prepared to fight for self rule.

Father Sinnott said he would not file charges against his kidnappers because he could not say for sure who they were.

In Manila, the Philippine Columban regional head told a Church media forum he would hold talks with the bishop of Pagadian about the safety of missioners in the area.

Father Sinnott said he wants to resume his ministry in Pagadian, largely involving a school and foundation for children and youths with special needs, and an interfaith group advocating peace through interreligious dialogue.

 

http://www.indiancatholic.in/news/storydetails.php/13887-1-10-MILF-rebels-charged-with-priest-%27s-kidnapping

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Category: Mission Trip/Missionary Security

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