Second suspect in Filipino maid’s murder is arrested in Syria

Jessica, centre, and Jojit Demafelis, left, siblings of Joanna Demafelis react as the wooden casket of her remains arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. (AP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Second suspect in Filipino maid’s murder is arrested in Syria

MANILA: The second suspect in the murder of Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer in a Kuwait apartment, has been arrested in Syria, it was announced late Saturday night.
Mona Hassoun, wife of Nader Essam Assaf, a Lebanese who was Dermafelis’ employer, is now in the custody of authorities in Damascus, the Philippine foreign office has been told.
Hassoun’s arrest came a day after the announcement that Lebanese authorities already have custody of her husband.
Hassoun and Assaf were the principal suspects in the murder of 29-year-old Demafelis.
Citing a report from the Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa, Alan Cayetano of the Philippines foreign office said Hassoun was arrested with her husband in Syria where the two fled after leaving Kuwait last year.
Cayetano said Assaf was immediately turned over to Lebanese authorities.
The two were taken into custody after Kuwaiti authorities requested the assistance of Interpol in locating and arresting them.
With the arrest of the suspects, Cayetano assured that President Rodrigo Duterte’s instructions to vigorously pursue justice for Demafelis would be followed.
Kuwaiti authorities discovered the body of Demafelis, which showed signs of torture, stuffed in a freezer earlier this month. The apartment had been abandoned by her employers in 2016.
Demafelis’ death angered President Duterte, who ordered a ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait.
During his visit to the wake of Demafelis in Sara, Iloilo, last Thursday, Duterte assured her family that he would seek justice for the slain worker but would leave the matter to the Kuwaiti authorities for now.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the president has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to summon the local recruiters of the murdered Filipino.


Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

Updated 18 August 2018
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Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Office says Afghanistan has not shared any evidence to support its recent allegations against Pakistan
  • Imran Khan’s idea of a soft border between Pakistan and Afghanistan may have suffered a big setback in the wake of the Ghazni attack

PESHAWAR: In the backdrop of the Taliban’s brazen assault on the southern city of Ghazni in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani alleged that the bodies of the perpetrators had arrived in Pakistan, though Islamabad maintained that Kabul had not officially shared any information or evidence in this regard.
Soon after that, the Afghan president said in a fiery speech to a jirga in Ghazni: “I have a message for Pakistan. Dead bodies (of the Taliban) have arrived in (Pakistan). Peace cannot be forcefully imposed on Afghanistan. Where did they (Taliban) come from and why are they being treated in (Pakistani) hospitals?”
But Pakistan strongly rejected reports claiming that some Taliban fighters involved in the Ghazni attack had been offered medical treatment in its hospitals.
In the absence of any official communication through regular channels established bilaterally, such reports cannot be given any credence, said Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday.
Haq Nawaz, a senior Peshawar-based security analyst, told Arab News that the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan faced a string of daunting challenges, such as economic revival, political stability, tackling corruption, and improving relations with his country’s immediate neighbors.
However, he added that recent developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have stepped up violent activities, will probably constitute a much bigger predicament for the new political administration.
He recalled that Khan had mentioned in his victory speech that he wanted a European Union-style soft border with Afghanistan, claiming that the idea had seemingly received a setback after the Ghazni attack.
“The latest bout of allegations will have a negative impact on the process of reviving good relations between the two neighboring countries,” Nawaz noted.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed “deep concern” over the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan and lamented in a statement released by the military’s media wing the loss of precious lives.
Bajwa reiterated that Pakistan was not supporting terrorist activities inside Afghanistan. He added that the allegation about the movement of injured or dead terrorists from Ghazni to Pakistan was incorrect.
However, the army chief noted that there were scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan, and that some of them periodically fell victim to acts of terrorism along with their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan. “Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate,” he maintained.
Yet, the Afghan president sought an explanation from Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership on the Ghazni attack.
“Imran Khan, you are the son of Pashtun parents. Investigate this and give me an answer. General Bajwa, you have repeatedly given me assurances over phone calls that special attention would be given to the issue of peace in Afghanistan once elections took place in Pakistan. Now give me an answer,” Ghani said while addressing a group of tribal elders attending the jirga.
Bajwa said that different factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan hiding in their sanctuaries in Afghanistan after assuming Afghan identities, were transported to Pakistan for medical help after receiving injuries.
Nawaz said the Afghan government should share relevant evidence with Pakistan in this case, arguing that using the media or social media to deal with such serious and sensitive developments can worsen the situation.
He said it was not just a statement or allegation from an ordinary official since the claim was made by a head of state, adding that both countries should settle such teething issues through dialogue and diplomatic channels.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted in its statement: “Such reports can only be viewed as malicious propaganda to vitiate the existing cooperation between the two countries.”