No criminal charges in Manila hostage case

Oct. 12, 2010 at 10:26 AM
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MANILA, Philippines, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Criminal charges won't be filed against the Philippine officials in a failed hostage rescue attempt that left eight tourists dead, the country's president said.

President Benigno Aquino III did not follow the Incident Investigation and Review Committee's recommendation, instead accepting the recommendation of his team that cleared Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno for the incident that left eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage-taker, a dismissed police officer, dead, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Tuesday.

Rolando Mendoza, an ex-policeman who wanted his job and benefits back, took a tour bus hostage in downtown Manila Aug. 23 in a standoff that lasted 12 hours before commandos stormed the vehicle.

Besides Puno, the highest ranking administration official implicated in the IIRC review, Aquino cleared recently retired Director General Jesus Verzosa, who led the Philippine National Police, of any liability. The president also said Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, an Aquino family friend and former Manila police chief, should face administrative charges for misconduct and simple neglect.

"I pledged from the very start that there would be accountability," Aquino said at a news conference Monday. "The purpose of the review was to find the viable legal actions which can be taken against the concerned parties."

The IIRC said Lim should face administrative and criminal liability for the botched attempt that strained diplomatic relations between Beijing and Manila. The committee also recommended administrative sanctions against 12 other people.

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