Philippine ‘hit man’ set to file ICC case against Duterte over crimes against humanity

japan times

Reuters, Mar 14, 2017

A self-confessed assassin who testified to being in a “death squad” under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will soon file a case at the International Criminal Court accusing the president of crimes against humanity, his lawyer said Tuesday.

More than 8,000 people have died since Duterte took office in June and unleashed a bloody war on drugs, a third in raids and sting operations by police who say they acted in self-defense.

Duterte and the police have denied links to the other killings, many of which rights groups say bear the same hallmarks as hundreds of suspicious deaths of criminals in Davao City during the 22 years Duterte was its mayor.

Two men have testified before the Senate, saying they were part of an alleged hit squad in Davao they said killed at Duterte’s behest. Legislators found no proof of their testimony, which the president’s aides dismiss as fabrication.

The ICC case will come from Edgar Matobato, who came out of hiding last week and testified in September to have killed more than 50 people in the Davao area.

In a television interview, his lawyer, Jude Sabio, said Matobato would file a case with the court in The Hague this month or in early April.

“Murder is a serious crime. If it is committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against the civilian population, it constitutes a crime against humanity,” Sabio said.

Retired policeman Arturo Lascanas has testified to killing alongside Matobato and last week said he believed more witnesses would speak against Duterte to prevent themselves being “erased.”

Duterte’s chief lawyer, Salvador Panelo, said the president was not threatened by any possible international court case.

“The extrajudicial killings here are being done by the members of the (drug) syndicate themselves,” Panelo told news channel ANC.

“The president is not behind it, neither (are) the police.”

In a report last month, Amnesty International said the drug killings appeared to be “systematic, planned and organized” by authorities and could constitute crimes against humanity.

In a series of reports last year, Reuters showed police had a 97 percent kill rate in drug operations, the strongest proof yet that police were summarily shooting suspects.

An ICC prosecutor in October said the tribunal might have jurisdiction to prosecute those accused of the killings.

Duterte has little love for the ICC and has described it as “useless.”

Asked Monday about the prospect of going to jail, Duterte stood by what he said were clear instructions to police to kill if their lives were in danger, and reiterated that he took full responsibility for the crackdown.

“I will do what I say in public and I am ready to face the consequences,” he told a news conference. “If I go to prison, so be it.”

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This entry was posted in Extra-judicial killing - Giết người không tòa án, Human rights - Nhân quyền, ICC - International Criminal Court, Philippines and tagged , , , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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