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ASSASSINATION BY HIRED KILLERS FAILED TWICE

(Unofficial translation from the original in Dutch)
Article of Folkert Jensma in NRC.NEXT 30 May 2008, pp. 10-11.
Big photo of Prof. Jose Maria Sison in the NDFP International
Information Office in Utrecht, with painting on the NDFP
in background.


By FOLKERT JENSMA
30 May 2008

The Philippine government tried to get rid of Communist leader Sison in Utrecht

  • The Philippine government sent hired killers to The Netherlands to kill the Communist Sison.
  • Details are coming out now
The Hague. They stayed in the Amsterdam budget tourist hotel Tourist Inn at the Spui [downtown Amsterdam], the members of the Filipino 'hit team' which came to The Netherlands in October 1999 in order to perpetrate a political murder. Their target was Jose Maria Sison, the rather elder Filipino Communist leader who has resided in Utrecht as an exile since 1987. Two men, with several thousand dollars cash and travelers checks. They had landed in Frankfurt and travelled by train to Amsterdam. There they bought two prepaid mobile cards and rented a car at Avis.



But the assassination of Sison was not committed. A second attempt with a second team, a few months later, also failed. The aspirant-killers first had difficulty in finding Sison. When they had found out his home, office and routes, they almost came into action twice. One time against the wrong person. another time they got afraid and withdrew because Sison was walking, holding a child. Their rented car was also broken into - luggage gone. They gave a notification of this to the local police because of the insurance.

The killing was supposed be carried out with a knife and an axe. But it took so long The teams lost courage, felt literally cold in The Netherlands and they got worried about home. They also found that they were conspicuous. The Utrecht people walked around in the cool spring weather just in T-shirts. They had thick jackets. And they had to hide therein the axe. Why did Manila anyway want that it had to be done with a knife? A real gun, that's what they wanted!

The details come from the interrogation conducted by the Nationale Recherche [National Criminal Investigation] in the end of February 2008 at the American army base, Clark, in the Philippines with Jose Ramos (53). This person stayed for weeks over seven years ago in The Netherlands with the objective to kill Sison. He dropped out because he heard that back home he had been put on record as "deserted" [AWOL "away without leave"]. That made him afraid. He feared that the secret service would kill him after the assassination.

Sison himself had in the meantime found out about everything. His sources in Manila had informed him by letter. And he gave a detailed notification to the Utrecht police. This latter warned the AIVD [General Intelligence and Security Service], and after this everything remained still. No one was arrested. "Too few reference points," says the Public Prosecutor's Office later.

Until last week. Then the current lawyer of Sison, Michiel Pestman, came back from vacation. He found six new folders with testimonies on his desk. It looked like "the nth installment" in the procedure of the Public Prosecutor's Office to get Sison in jail for a double murder in the Philippines. For against Sison there are the necessary complaints (see sidebar). But in the dossier there was a little gift: the curious declaration of Ramos - who appeared to incriminate himself, and so delivered the first proof that the attack [assassination attempt] earlier was real.

Ramos had kept the hotel bill and gave this willingly to the Nationale Recherche. The witness Ramos had contact with the [Philippine] secret service, from whom he received money and travel papers. And thus there was a connection with the Philippine government. Even a failed attempt at political assassination, according to Pestman, is a violation of the Dutch sovereignty by a foreign power. Since when does a friendly country send death squads, to Utrecht, by the way?

The new information is for him also a chance to give a new turn to the Sison case. This Ramos and his travel companions must be extradited to The Netherlands. Or at least, in his estimation, they should be prosecuted in the Philippines. The Public Prosecutor's Office says that the assassination was not carried out and thus it is not criminally punishable. But Pestman rejects the juridical argument of 'voluntary withdrawal" ["vrijwillige terugtred"]. A 'defective attempt' remains criminally punishable if it is a grave crime which is committed 'in association'. That was the case here. He now demands criminal prosecution.

In the dossier there was still something crazy. In one of the murders of which Sison is suspect, the police have discovered another suspect. A certain Edwin Garcia, also with connections to the secret service, who was supposed to also be in Utrecht. This man is supposed to have been recognized at the assassination of a renegade member of the party of Sison, a certain Kintanar. This person had gone over to the government side and appears to have organized the attack in Utrecht.

In that way, the 'James Bond film' was complete. The killing of Kintanar in the Philippines could have been organized in order to put the blame on Sison. Sison is supposed to then have a double motive. Revenge against a traitor from one's own circle who also tried to kill him in Utrecht.

Did Sison really do it or was he caught? There is no concrete proof for this. Only indications. Pestman points to official Philippine requests to The Hague to have Sison prosecuted. The suspicion against Garcia precisely takes the burden off his client. Just like the attack [assassination attempt] in Utrecht, it proves that the Philippine state wants to go very far to put Sison out of the way. However, the Public Prosecutor's Office sees no connection between the cases.

Pestman calls the whole case a "stinking game" ["onwelriekend spel"]. Pestman is still making complaints against all the steps that the Public Prosecutor's Office takes against Sison. Up to now, he is declared correct by the judges. Against Sison there were insufficient serious complaints to seriously consider him a suspect. Pestman thinks that the case of the state is so weak that he would consider an interim dismissal disappointing. He prefers most a complete acquittal.

On June 10 the judge will issue a ruling on his complaint against the 'notice of further prosecution'. Depending on that, the spokesman of the national office of the prosecutor says, "we are again evaluating the case".

[Sidebar] Sison on the EU-terror list
  • Jose Maria Sison causes a headache to the US and the Philippines already for decades. Since last year, the national office [of the Public Prosecutor] in Rotterdam to get Sison behind bars for the killing of two renegade members of his party in the Philippines.
  • The national office acknowledges that Sison was not in the Philippines during the time of the killings and that he has not spoken with the actual perpetrators. But because of his leading political role, it finds Sison to be 'functional perpetrator' ['functioneel dader'].
  • The Nationale Recherche, with American and Philippine support, carried out extensive investigation in the Philippines. Sison is since 2002 on the US and EU terror list. His bank account was blocked.
  • The EU Court of First Instance, part of the European Court of Justice, decided in 2007, that the listing on the terror list is unjust. The Council of Ministers however keeps him [on the list]. Sison was refused asylum in The Netherlands, but is tolerated because he cannot be expelled.




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