MANILA -- A Taguig court has convicted a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group for the death of a security guard and an employee of a resort in Samal, Davao del Norte, which was attacked by the group 17 years ago.
In a 14-page ruling dated Dec. 3, Presiding Judge Marivic C. Vitor of the Taguig City Regional Trial Court Branch 266 found Hasim Alibasa Radjuli alias Hasiem guilty of murder and was sentenced to reclusion perpetua for the death of security guard Jimmy Culam who died when he fought off some 22 Abu Sayyaf terrorists who attacked Pearl Farm Beach Resort in Kaputian District on May 22, 2001.
Hasiem was also convicted by the court for homicide for the death of resort employee Rolando Jara who was also killed during the attack. He was sentenced to up to 14 years in prison for the second death but was cleared of piracy charges.
The prosecution of the case hinged on the testimony of Julashrey Abtani, a member of the renegade group who detailed how their mission organized by Nadzmi Sabdulla alias Commander Global from Karawan, Indanan, Sulu failed after bad weather severely damaged their high-speed sea-going vessel known locally as a "kumpit".
While near the resort, Culam confronted them eventually losing in the firefight with the bandits.
The group then took over another vessel M/B Teresita abducting Wennie Duran and Rolando Basalo who were forced to operate the boat for the group's escape to Malita, Davao del Sur.
Days after the failed attack, the group under Global staged another raid, this time at the Dos Palmas beach resort in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and took 20 hostages including American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham.
Hasiem was arrested days after the Samal incident in a follow-up operation by policemen after the witness Abtani himself was arrested when he returned to recover firearms, including an M-60 machine gun, which the group had been forced to abandon during their escape.
Aside from the jail term, Hasiem was also ordered to pay PHP225,000 in indemnity and damages for the guard's death and PHP135,000 in indemnity and damages for the death of Jara.
Sabdulla, meanwhile, along with Galib Andang alias Commander Robot and Alhamser Limbong, alias Commander Kosovo, died in the 2005 mutiny inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City when Abu Sayyaf inmates tried to escape prison.
Some 20 others died during the incident. (PNA)