31 maart 2009 - Landelijk Parket
Filipino communist leader Jose Maria Sison will not continue to be prosecuted by the Public Prosecution Service for assassination attempts in the Philippines. The criminal investigation lacks sufficient legal evidence.
Sison and his lawyer have been informed of this decision today. The relatives of the victims, who gave a statement in the Philippines, have also been informed by the Public Prosecutions Service of the termination of the criminal investigation.
The 70-year old founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed section, the New People's Army (NPA), was arrested in his place of residence of Utrecht, on 28 August 2007. The communist leader was suspected of having given the order from the Netherlands, to assassinate former allies in the Philippines.
The International Crimes Team of the National Criminal Investigation Department
carried out an investigation both in the Netherlands and in the Philippines. The criminal file contains statements of witnesses and documents to the effect that the assassination attempts were carried out by the New People’s Army.
Other statements of witnesses say that the suspect maintained intensive ties with communist bodies at the time of the murders. Furthermore, witnesses have stated that in view of his position within the CCP, he must have been involved in the investigated murders.
The Dutch detectives also recorded statements of the widows of the victims and the marksmen who were involved in the murders.
Two weeks after his arrest and his remand into custody, however, the Court of The Hague ended the suspect’s provisional custody. According to the Court, the suspicion that Sison held a prominent position within the CPP and the NPA was justified, but the police file yielded unsufficient leads for his direct involvement in the murders to extend the provisional custody. This decision was confirmed by the Appellate Court at a later date. On 21 November 2007, the investigating magistrate closed the preliminary judicial investigation.
On 17 January 2008, the Public Prosecution Service sent the suspect a notice to the effect that the prosecution would be continued. The objections raised against this and a petition from the communist leader’s lawyer to dismiss the case againt his client were declared unfounded by the Court on 5 June 2008. According to the Court, the Public Prosecution Service must be given the time to continue and conclude the criminal investigation.
During the investigation in the Philippines and in The Netherlands, however, the investigating team was met by a wall of fear in the witnesses and there was no willingness to give statements. Ultimately, the investigation did not yield sufficient evidence to subpoena the communist leader to face charges. The investigation may be reopened should new facts or circumstances give rise to that.