Philippines' Duterte accused of crimes against humanity in ICC complaint

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  April 24, 2017 at 8:58 AM
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April 24 (UPI) -- A Philippine lawyer has filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court in The Hague accusing President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies of crimes against humanity.

Jude Sabio, lawyer for confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato, filed the complaint on Monday. Sabio asked the ICC to investigate Duterte for his alleged involvement in the actions of the Davao Death Squad.

"Your favorable action on this matter would not only serve the noble ends of international criminal justice but would also be the beginning of the end of this dark, obscene, murderous and evil era in the Philippines," Sabio told the court in his cover letter.

Sabio accused Duterte of overseeing the killings of at least 1,400 people when Duterte was mayor of Davao City.

The Davao Death Squad was first identified by Human Rights Watch in 2009. Duterte, 71, who served as the mayor of Davao City for 22 years, became president last year after he ran on an anti-crime platform that appealed to the country's upper and middle classes who fear rising criminality.

Matobato in September said Duterte ordered him and others to kill hundreds of criminals and political rivals during his mayoral term.

"We were tasked to kill criminals like drug dealers, rapists, [purse] snatchers. We kill those types every day," Matobato then said.

Sabio requested the ICC's pre-trial chamber to place Duterte and his senior government officials, including Philippine National Police Director General Vitaliano Aguirre and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, on trial and to "convict them and sentence them to corresponding prison sentence or life imprisonment."

"Crimes against humanity are crimes of universal jurisdiction, but where a state like the Philippines fails to assume such universal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity continuously being committed in its very own territory, then the International Criminal Court will have to intervene into a situation that is grave by any human standard," Sabio said.

Matobato previously provided explicit details of alleged killings, including one in which a victim was fed to a crocodile. He said victims would be shot or strangled, while some were disemboweled and thrown into the sea for fish to eat.

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