MANILA, Aug. 18 -- Malaysian authorities have captured one of the Philippines' most wanted criminals, a renegade Muslim policeman had been reported killed in a dramatic three-day siege of a garrison in 1989, police said Thursday. Philippine National Police Chief Recaredo Sarmiento said he was informed by the Royal Malaysian Police that Rizal Alih has been in a Malaysian jail for the past three weeks.
Alih was wanted for the murders of Police Gen. Eduardo Batalla and his aide, Col.Romeo Abendan, since 1989 when he led a group of Muslim police mutineers who seized a southern garrison. Alih faces charges of illegal possession of firearms in Malaysia. Unconfirmed reports said he was also involved in the killing of a Malaysian policeman. Alih was captured last month in a roundup of 30 other Filipinos who were found in possession of eight high-powered firearms, a crime punishable by death under Malaysian law. 'Our only problem now is how to get him back here to face charges,' Sarmiento said. There is no formal extradition treaty between the two countries. On Jan. 6, 1989, the Philippine military razed Camp Cawa-Cawa in Zamboanga City, 540 miles (864 km) south of Manila, after rebellious Muslim policemen headed by Alih killed their commanding officers. Batalla had earlier arrested Alih and eight of his men in connection with a string of murders in the southern city. At least 20 other people were slain during the assault that followed. Alih was believed to have been among the casualties, but most of the bodies were badly burned during the shelling and could not be identified. Alih reportedly surfaced later in Muslim rebel territory, which newspaper reports said prompted the government to offer 4 million pesos ($152,670) for his capture.