World

Aquino facing charges over deadly 2015 anti-terror raid

MANILA: Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino is to be charged in court over a botched anti-terror raid in 2015 that left 44 elite policemen dead, a special government prosecutor said yesterday.

Mr Aquino, who ended his six-year term last year, was indicted for usurping authority and allowing suspended police chief Alan Purisima to run the fatal January 2015 commando raid, the government ombudsman said.

Mr Aquino, who could face several years in prison if convicted, could not be immediately reached for comment. An aide told AFP he would consult with his lawyers.

COMPLICITY

"Purisima would not have been placed in such a position... were it not for the complicity and influence of President Aquino," Ombudsman Conchita Morales said.

The police commandos were dispatched on an anti-terror mission to the rural southern town of Mamasapano and killed Malaysian suspect Zulkifli Abdhir, who was on the United States government's most-wanted list.

The policemen were later ambushed by Muslim militants and other gunmen, leaving 44 officers dead.

As a result, Congress refused to pass a Muslim self-rule bill that would have crowned Mr Aquino's efforts to bring lasting peace to the rebellion-torn Mindanao region, home to the Catholic nation's large Islamic minority.

Mrs Morales alleged Mr Aquino had violated the law by assigning leadership of the mission to an official who was serving out a suspension over allegations of corruption.

The bloodbath helped to turn public opinion against Mr Aquino, who later unsuccessfully campaigned to prevent the election of Mr Rodrigo Duterte as his successor.

Mr Duterte has frequently raised the Mamasapano incident as proof of Mr Aquino's alleged misdeeds. - AFP

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