Man tagged by military as Abu Sayyaf can identify his torturers, says rights group
MANILA, Philippines – Abdul Khan Ajid, who has accused soldiers of torturing him on suspicion he was an Abu Sayyaf bandit, could identify his torturers, a doctor said on Tuesday.
Ajid was tortured for three days allegedly in a military camp in Basilan, and was given a respite during President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on July 25, said Dr. Benito Molino, who documented his case.
“He was not tortured on that day. Maybe they rested. The following day, that was the day he was burned,’’ he told a press forum in Quezon City.
The 39-year-old baker was still confined in a hospital in Zamboanga City for treatment of his wounds, including serious burns, and he appeared traumatized by the torture, Molino said.
“This was the most serious case of burning inflicted on a torture victim I’ve seen,’’ said Molino, a forensic consultant of the Medical Action Group Inc. (MAG) who has been documenting such cases for 20 years.
MAG is part of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).
The doctor, who interviewed Ajid for three days in the hospital, showed photographs of the victim’s first and second-degree burns on his abdomen, private parts, buttocks, head, face and lower back in a PowerPoint presentation.
While he was blindfolded during the torture on July 23, 24 and 26, Ajid managed to catch a glimpse of two of his four torturers, and could identify them in a lineup, Molino said.
“The problem is, will the military present them in a lineup?’’ he said.
Human rights lawyers investigating Ajid’s case, however, were also thinking of filing charges against some 50 military personnel who picked him up, he said.
Ajid was nabbed by soldiers on July 23 on suspicion he was Kanneh Malikilivo, an alleged ASG bandit.
After holding Ajid for days, the military produced him in court after a local court granted his family’s petition for habeas corpus.
Following the furor over the case, the military recommended Capt. Sherwin Guidangen, S/Sergeant Elmer Magdaraog, Sgt. Edgardo Santos and Sgt. George Awing for court-martial proceedings.
Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said all the personnel suspected of involvement in the torture had been placed “under tactical arrest.”
Ajid could be suffering from psychological trauma, too, according to Molino.
“When I interviewed him, he couldn’t talk straight. He had memory lapses,’’ he said.
According to PAHRA, some military men had gotten in touch with Ajid’s family for an “out-of-court settlement.’’
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