Philippine court convicts bomber in Muslim congressman’s death

In this Nov. 19, 2007, file photo, left to right; from right, suspects Adnam Kusain, Ikram Indama and Caidar Aunal linked to the blast at the House of Representatives are lined up at the Department of Justice in Manila. Indama was convicted of multiple murders on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, while Kusain and Aundal were acquitted. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, FIle)
Updated 18 November 2017
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Philippine court convicts bomber in Muslim congressman’s death

MANILA, Philippines: A Philippine court has convicted a man for a daring 2007 motorcycle bombing that killed a Muslim rebel-turned-congressman and three other people and wounded 10, including two legislators.
Judge Ralph Lee of the Regional Trial Court Branch 83 on Friday convicted Ikram Indama but acquitted two other key suspects in the Nov. 13, 2007, bombing that killed Rep. Wahab Akbar as he walked out of a lobby at the House of Representatives.
Indama, who has links to Abu Sayyaf extremists, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to a copy of Lee’s decision.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong said that Indama, a cousin of a notorious Abu Sayyaf commander in the country’s south, brought the motorcycle laden with a bomb and was identified through closed circuit television.
Ong said the attackers had also plotted to kill Akbar before, including the previous day, but he was absent from the lower house.
Former Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, who survived the bombing with leg and back wounds, head burns and a shattered ear drum, welcomed the conviction but said government investigators should continue efforts to identify the other suspects involved in the attack.
“We should not be content with just being told that the one who planted the bomb in the motorcycle has been taken in,” Ilagan said by phone. “The next question is, who ordered him to do so and what was the motive?“
Ilagan, now a social welfare undersecretary, recalled that she was about to board her van from the lobby when “a flash of light illuminated the area followed by a loud, loud explosion that forced me and my aide like a strong wind.” Her driver died and she later realized she was hit when she felt her leg was bloodied as she lay in the darkness.
Akbar was reportedly among the original leaders of the Abu Sayyaf extremist group when it was established in the late 1980s on the southern island of Basilan. He later had a falling out with the militants, was elected Basilan governor and backed US-backed offensives in his province against the militants, who are notorious for bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.
As governor, Akbar had been blamed for a brutal crackdown against Abu Sayyaf militants, who had plotted to retaliate against him, anti-terrorism authorities said.
The Abu Sayyaf has been blacklisted by the United States and the Philippines as a terrorist organization.
Akbar also headed a political dynasty that has long ruled Basilan, a poor, predominantly Muslim province that, under him, became a showcase of US-assisted war on terrorism at the time. His political rivals were among the suspects in his killings but were later cleared by the court.
Three other suspects, Hajjarun Jamiri, Benjamin Hataman and former police officer Bayan Judda, remain at large and are the targets of a police search, the court said.
Aside from threats posed by Abu Sayyaf gunmen, the southern Philippines has also faced intense political and clan rivalries that are often accompanied by bloodshed and assassinations.


Arrests after Indian woman gang-raped, burned to death

Updated 25 min 13 sec ago
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Arrests after Indian woman gang-raped, burned to death

  • India has a grim record of sexual violence, with nearly 40,000 rape cases reported countrywide in 2016
  • Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, reported more than 4,800 rapes in 2016

NEW DELHI: Indian police arrested two men on Monday over the gang rape and burning to death of a woman, the latest shocking crime against females in the country, officials said.
Five men allegedly took it in turns to rape the woman after barging into her home early on Saturday, before dragging her to a Hindu temple where they burned her to death in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
“Two of the accused were arrested from an adjoining district early Monday and we are looking for the rest,” local police chief Radhey Mohan Bhardwaj said.
Initial investigations found the men, who are members of the same extended family as the victim and from the same locality, were “annoyed” with the 35-year-old for meeting a particular man, Bhardwaj said.
Police said the mother-of-two revealed the identities of the accused to her husband over the phone after the alleged rape and before they took her to the nearby temple and murdered her.
Police rejected media reports that the woman’s desperate emergency phone call went unanswered, saying it was unsuccessful because of the poor network quality in the area.
India has a grim record of sexual violence, with nearly 40,000 rape cases reported countrywide in 2016.
Campaigners say the true figure is likely to be much higher given the social stigma around victims of sexual crimes.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, reported more than 4,800 rapes in 2016.
The state has been rocked by several high-profile rape cases in recent months, including one that allegedly involved a lawmaker from the ruling party.
Sexual violence in India has been in the global spotlight since the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a woman on a New Delhi bus sparked angry protests and stiffer penalties.