ABU SAAD SHOT DEAD; CHR STARTS PROBE
TAGBILARAN CITY — Barely 24 hours after his capture, Abu Sayyaf member Saad Samad Kiram is dead.
Kiram, or alias Abu Saad, was shot in the forehead, chest and left thigh by policemen after he allegedly tried to escape at about 5 a.m. on Friday in the town of Cortes in Bohol.
The Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7), which was going to commend the police for arresting a remnant of about a dozen bandit group who entered Bohol on April 10, would now be investigating the police for the “suspicious” manner with which Abu Saad was killed.
“The person was already arrested, and yet why did he die? That is death in the hands of a law enforcement body or the government — the same entity which is supposed to serve and protect its people regardless of status, whether criminal or not,” said CHR-7 Director Arvin Odron.
“He (Kiram) was a suspected terrorist. The police should know that he, at any time, might escape or fight back. They should not have given him the opportunity to escape (if there really was an attempt to flee),” he added.
Odron, who was in Manila yesterday to attend the 30th founding anniversary of the CHR, told CDN he has informed CHR Chairman Chito Gascon about the incident, and that the Commission would be coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to the conduct of an autopsy on Kiram’s body.
“We want to know the trajectory of the bullets that hit him (Kiram). We will determine whether or not he was shot at close range and all other details on the manner he was shot,” he said.
CHR-7 investigators went to Bohol on Friday to secure a copy of the official police report on Kiram’s death to jumpstart their investigation, he added.
“Yesterday, the man was arrested. Today he is dead,” he said.
A human being
“Not because he was a suspected terrorist that he should be given an (inhumane) treatment. We must remember that he still was a human being,” he added.
Kiram was one of the three remaining Abu Sayyaf members who were being hunted down by authorities after the bandit group entered Barangay Napo, Inabanga town, Bohol on April 10 to set up a base and conduct terror activities in nearby islands.
Their eight companions were killed in separate operations in Inabanga and Clarin towns.
Among those killed were Mouamar Askali alias Abu Rami, the leader of the group; bomb experts Abu Sufyan and Edimar Isnain; Joselito Melloria, a native of Bohol who became an ASG member; pumpboat operator Aldimar Taib; an alias Richard; an alias Omil; and an unidentified man.
Kiram was looking for food when he was caught at about 7 a.m. on Thursday in Barangay Tanawan, about 14 kilometers from the town proper of Tubigon.
Kiram was fed by the owner of the house who then informed the barangay officials who, in turn, tipped off the Tubigon police and military.
Although surprised, Kiram didn’t resist arrest.
Kiram was brought to the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) for tactical interrogation.
High risk detainee
But Supt. Felipe Natividad, Bohol police director, said they decided to transfer the Abu Sayyaf member to the Bohol District Jail (BDJ) where he would be detained, being a high-risk detainee.
“He was supposed to be brought there (BDJ) in Barangay Cabawan, Tagbilaran (City) for safekeeping because we don’t have a detention facility (in BPPO),” he added.
He boarded a police van with three police escorts and a driver past 2 a.m.
Part of the convoy were three more vehicles.
The convoy, according to the police, took a longer route due to “security reason.”
The police didn’t take the usual route that passed through Barangay San Isidro to BDJ where the road is better paved and the area is well-lighted.
Instead, the convoy took the highway in Cortes town passing Barangays La Paz and New Lourdes.
When they reached the Cabawan District, some 300 meters from the BDJ, Kiram reportedly asked if he could defecate in a dim-lighted and grassy area.
The police escorts told him to hold it in since they were near the facility, but Kiram reportedly insisted since his stomach was already aching.
“His stomach was aching due to LBM (loose bowel movement),” said Natividad.
The police relented. His handcuffs were removed and he was escorted to the spot where he was supposed to take a dump.
When one of the policemen went back to the vehicle to get a bond paper in lieu of toilet paper, Kiram was able to run away.
According to Natividad, the manhunt for Kiram lasted for more than two hours because the area was not well lighted and isolated with tall grasses and trees.
He said Kiram was finally corned at around 4:30 a.m. and had a fistfight with the police.
Natividad said the ASG member tried to grab the firearm of one of his police escorts. While grappling for the gun, Saad was shot thrice — the fatal wound was in the middle of the forehead.
Kiram did not make it to Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital, said Dr. Edgar Pizarras, head of the hospital’s Office of Special Concerns.
Pizarras said that after taking the identifying marks, the body was brought to the hospital morgue while waiting for the authorities to claim the body.
Police cordoned the area in Barangay Cabawan where Kiram was killed. Few blood stain was in the area.
“We are conducting an investigation with regards to clarify everything,” said Natividad. “Just give us time so that we will know. Whatever the course of the investigation, that would take us… kung talagang may liability yung ano natin, will be sanction for that.”
But Odron said the circumstances surrounding Kiram’s death is highly questionable.
“If he were to defecate, the police should have dropped by the nearest police station. What happened create a thinking that he (Kiram) was asked to run and then he was shot,” he said.
Odron said there could be an order to kill Kiram and it’s a matter that CHR would like to find out.
“The CHR just have to do its mandate to monitor compliance of government standards. Please, don’t blame the CHR if we have to step in.
A person under police custody should be safe,” Odron said.
Kiram was one of the boatmen of the three kumpit (fast twin-engine boat) that entered Inabanga town on April 10.
According to sources privy to Kiram’s investigation, Kiram was commissioned by Abu Rami to take them to Bohol and was paid P10,000.
He carried persons in his kumpit while the second kumpit carried improvised explosive device (IED) and weapons, and the third was loaded with provisions and logistics.
Kiram reportedly said he regretted going to Bohol, a place unfamiliar to him and other members; and would have wanted to stay in Sulu with his family.
But Abu Rami insisted they should go to Bohol for a mission — to kidnap and establish a base outside Sulu, Kiram was quoted as saying.
Investigators likewise learned that during the firefight in Inabanga on April 11, Kiram sustained a gunshot wound in the left side of his shoulder.
He hid at the other house during the gunfight and fled to the adjoining town of Clarin.
Kiram also admitted that ASG bomb expert Renierlo Dongon had contacted him about the planned rescue operation. But Dongon and his wife, Supt. Maria Christina Nobleza, were arrested on April 22 when they failed to stop at a checkpoint manned by the Army.
Kiram also revealed that after they fled from the government siege in Inabanga town on April 11, they were led by Melloria to Clarin where they were supposed to wait for their rescuers.
When in Clarin, they hid in the cave in Barangay Bacani. But when authorities learned about their hiding place, a firefight ensued and Melloria was the first to fall.
Other two remnants ran to other direction, while Kiram and his three companions ran to Barangay Caboy until his three companions were killed.
Kiram survived the Clarin clash by rolling down the hill and hid himself away from the populated area. Hunger, however, drove him to come out and ask for food. He didn’t know what happened to the two other Abu Sayyaf members.
In keeping with Muslim tradition to bury their dead within 24 hours, Kiram was buried on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in a private lot beside the TipTip Cemetery in Tagbilaran City.
Tagbilaran City Administrator Edi Borja said the city bought a white cloth to wrap the body before it was placed inside a cadaver bag.
He said the city government negotiated with the private lot owner, Eddie Alturas, to bury Kiram there since the city-owned backhoe that would dig the grave could not get inside the public cemetery.
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