|German cops disprove Abu ransom kickback story
MANILA (ABS-CBN) -- German police
reportedly discredited the Abu Sayyaf ransom kickback story published in a German magazine
after transcripts of conversations between government negotiators and bandit leader
Commander Robot turned out to be inconclusive.
The taped recorded conversations, captured on a satellite
phone, did not mention anything about a supposed share of President Joseph Estrada and
flagship projects chief Robert Aventajado in ransom payments, National Police chief
Panfilo Lacson said this Tuesday.
In an interview, Lacson said he
asked German police to verify contents of the transcript translated in German, following
news the magazine Der Spiegel published a story stating Estrada and Aventajado
received cuts from ransoms during the Sulu hostage crisis.
Earlier, Der Spiegel based
its claim on a supposed taped conversation over a satellite phone between Aventajado and
Robot a.k.a. Ghalib Andang.
It alleged the President through the intercession of
Aventajado, pocketed a total of $8 million in commissions from ransom payments for Sulu
kasi baka may defect ang nakuha namin. They confirmed na wala talaga.
Even at their end ay wala talagang ganoong usapan tungkol sa suggestion about a
commission involving Secretary Aventajado and the President," Lacson said.
(The German police was able to
confirm it. We asked them for a confirmation because the transcript we received may have
been defective. But they confirmed there is really nothing in the transcript suggesting a
commission involving Aventajado and the President)
The Philippine National Police
(PNP) earlier sent a superintendent and a Tausug-speaking policeman to help German police
in translating the taped conversations.
Lacson said the conversations
also included other government negotiators, such as former Libyan envoy Rajab Azzarouq.
With most of the conversations
conducted in Tausug, a native dialect in Mindanao, Lacson said he is ready to present
copies of the official transcript before an investigative body.
Earlier, Aventajado said it is
likely that a libel suit from him and the President would be filed in Germany against Der
Spiegel. "Our lawyers are studying where to file the case. Looks like we'll have
to file it in Germany," he said in a television interview Monday night.
Aventajado also said his
lawyers are now translating into English the controversial article, which he said was
posted on Der Spiegel's internet site.
Last Monday, Aventajado and the
President separately denied the claim of the magazine that they received a cut in ransom
money for hostages kept by the Abu Sayyaf.
Press Secretary Ricardo Puno
Jr. for his part had said the President wants his lawyers to file the suit against Der
Spiegel "as soon as possible."
He said Malacañang expects the
magazine to come up with proof backing its allegations, otherwise, an apology from the
magazine is in order.
Puno also made it clear while
the President is irked over the article, he does not want the incident blown up into a
On his part, Aventajado said:
"definitely we'll file a libel suit. My mind is made up, and the President has said
he will also file a libel suit. Now our lawyers are looking at whether we can file a joint
Black propaganda being traced
The camp of President Estrada is now looking into leads that
would directly link the Der Spiegel magazine to an ally of opposition party
The President in chance interview, said part of information
gathered by Malacañang involved the participation of the National Union of Christian
The NUCD, the known social democratic party representing
Germany, is one of the known allies of the Lakas party headed by former president Fidel
"That's the information I received. The NUCD social
democrat has its connection in Germany. I have not gotten the complete report yet, I would
let you know by tomorrow. I would know if there is a political color on this," the
Estrada said he has already asked Foreign Affairs Secretary
Domingo Siazon to forward a communique to the Der Spiegel management, protesting
the story published by the magazine.
Aside from a letter-to-the-editor, legal advisers of the
President are now in the thick of collating evidence that would support a libel case
against the magazine.
A ranking official of Malacañang on Tuesday disclosed the
President received a letter from the German government on the case.
The official who requested anonymity, said the communication
was signed by the German minister.
In the letter, the German Minister reportedly denied that one
of their secret service agents was involved in the production of the Der Spiegel story.
The German government in its letter reportedly reiterated its
full trust and respect to the Estrada administration, especially when it negotiated for
the release of their nationals then hostaged by the Abu Sayyaf group.
The Malacañang official ruled out the filing of a diplomatic
protest against the German government.
"Filing a diplomatic protest will only be considered if
the German government has committed a grave mistake or offended the Philippine government
seriously," the official said.
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