MANILA, Philippines – Eighteen Filipino Muslims, who were wrongly accused of kidnapping and beheading Christian missionaries, are being released from prison while law enforcement personnel involved in the case will be investigated, AFP reported Thursday (February 7th).
Among the 18 are five persons who are suspected of belonging to the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf, but were not found to have played a part in the August 2002 beheadings.
"There is no denying that members of the Abu Sayyaf group are responsible for the kidnapping of six members of the Jehovah's Witnesses on August 20, 2002," said Peter Ong, vice-chairman of the justice department's counter-terrorism task force and author of a report on the case. "However, we note the indiscriminate arrest of alleged members of the (Abu Sayyaf), even those who did not participate in the kidnapping."
Three other detained suspects will remain behind bars.
In all, six Filipino missionaries were abducted on Jolo Island, Abu Sayyaf's southern stronghold. Two were beheaded almost immediately, while the others managed to escape months later.