ZAMBOANGA CITY - A man wrongfully arrested and charged in connection with the kidnapping of 21 foreign tourists and workers from the Malaysian island resort of Sipadan in 2000 has been ordered released from detention, an official of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos said Thursday.
Commissioner Edilwasif Baddiri said it was Presiding Judge Mariam Bien of Branch 153 of the Regional Trial Court in Taguig City who ordered that Adzhar Bari, accused of the crime along with more than 100 members of the Abu Sayyaf, be released from detention.
Bari was arrested by the authorities five years ago on the strength of a warrant for the arrest of an Abu Sayyaf member named Jurim Abdul, also known as Talib Hasim, who was an alleged follower of Ghalib Andang or commander Robot, the perpetrator of the Sipadan mass kidnapping.
"The prosecution witnesses failed to identify Adzhar Bari during the re-investigation, which led the judge to rule that he was not Jurim Abdul, alias Talib Hasim," Baddiri said.
He said Bien slready directed the jail warden of the Special Intensive Care Area at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City to "release Adzhar Bari, whom the prosecution claims to be Jurim Abdul or Talib Hasim, unless he is being held for some lawful cases."
So far, 30 individuals wrongfully charged for the Sipadan incident have already been freed, Baddiri said.
Andang was among notorious Abu Sayyaf leaders who led the kidnapping of 21 people, including several European and Middle Eastern nationals, from the Sipadan Resort in Malaysia on April 23, 2000.
Andang was killed, along with two other Abu sayyaf leaders and 19 other inmates, during a prison riot at Camp Bagong Diwa in March 2005.