Military wants custody of arrested Sayyaf leader

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    THE Armed Forces yesterday said it wants to take custody of a notorious Abu Sayyaf sub-leader who was arrested on Thursday night in Davao City, President Duterte’s hometown.

    AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the military will move to have custody over Idang Susukan, “a high-value individual” who is now under PNP custody, “for security considerations.”

    He said the military through the Judge Advocate General and the PNP through the Intelligence Group will file before a court a joint motion to transfer custody of Susukan to the AFP.

    He also said Susukan “must be made to answer for a score of heinous crimes he has committed — 23 gruesome cases of murder, five charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and six complaints for frustrated murder.”

    Malaysian media recently reported that Susukan was seen with Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front, in Davao City. Reports said Susukan “surrendered” to Misuari last April.

    Citing intelligence sources, the report said Misuari brought Susukan to Davao City to have him fitted with a prosthetic for his left arm which he lost during a firefight with government troops in Sulu last year.

    Questions have been raised about whether Misuari should be held liable as he allegedly allowed Susukan to move freely after the supposed surrender last April in Jolo.

    Regional intelligence sources said Idang was allowed to move freely after he surrendered to Misuari in Jolo Island in April this year.

    In a television interview on Saturday, Arevalo said: “There were reports that Idang Susukan was with chairman Nur Misuari and we validated that information.”

    Arevalo said Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr, commander of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City, established communication with Misuari “to hand over or turn over the custody of Idang Susukan to the military and to the PNP.”

    “Hence, what came after is the actual turnover by Misuari of Susukan to the composite team of the military and the police that evening in the residence of the chairman of the MNLF,” said Arevalo.

    Policemen then served the standing arrest warrants against Susukan who was brought to the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame early morning last Saturday.

    There were reports that Misuari offered presidential amnesty to convince Susukan to surrender.

    “The matter of amnesty is beyond the AFP to comment on since that is a legal matter. It is an issue the resolution of which is rightfully vested upon the political decision makers to pass upon based on the recommendation of the Department of Justice. And whatever that decision will be, the AFP will support it,” said Arevalo.

    Arevalo said Susukan’s arrest is a “very big blow” to the Abu Sayyaf “and with that, we expect that the group or the followers of Idang Susukan will retaliate against the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

    Arevalo noted that the military faced retaliatory attacks when Susukan’s two siblings were killed and a brother was captured in military operations.