3 convicted, 29 others at large in kidnapping of US citizens
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Three men were convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to life imprisonment in connection with the 2011 abduction of American Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, her son Kevin and Lunsmann’s cousin, Romnick Jakaria.
In a 35-page decision issued on Thursday, Regional Trial Court 15 Judge Peter Eisma also ruled that Patik Samson, also known as “Mauck” or “Samuray”; Meijing Jama, alias “Eyebag”; Imran; Abu Napieh; Termiji Atalad Ahmad; and Jamil Ajijul, alias “Gadzie Ajijul,” and a certain Robin would not be eligible for parole.
The three men were the only arrested suspects in the kidnapping of the Lunsmanns, who hail from Virginia, and Jakaria in Tictabon Island here in 2011.
Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, the city police director, said at least 29 other suspects remain at large.
Casimiro said police were grateful to the Lunsmanns for pursuing the case, which led to the conviction of three suspects.
“The participation of victims and witnesses are vital in the success of the case,” he said.
Casimiro said Mrs. Lunsmann made sure she attended every hearing.
Gerfa is a native of Zamboanga, who was adopted by an American couple.
She was vacationing on Tictabon Island with her son when they were abducted by armed men. Jakaria, who was serving as their local guide, was also taken.
Jakaria, then 19, later escaped while Mrs. Lunsmann was freed in November 2011, after reportedly paying ransom. Her son escaped in December of the same year.
Kevin, who was then 14, had told officials he fled barefoot while his captors were sleeping and survived for two days on coconuts.
He was found by villagers hiding in bushes near Lamitan in Basilan province and was immediately turned over to authorities.
Kevin was later handed over to US soldiers stationed here and was flown to Manila, where he met then US Ambassador Harry Thomas.
The Abu Sayyaf had originally demanded P50 million for the release of the Lunsmanns and Jakaria. Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
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