AFP NEWS REPORT IS INACCURATE AND MISLEADING

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
05 June 2008

The Agence France Presse issued a news report on June 5, 2008 which states: “A Dutch court (i.e. District Court of The Hague) gave prosecutors the go-ahead Thursday to pursue murder charges against Philippine communist leader, despite an earlier dismissal of the case.” This report is inaccurate and misleading.

To be exact, the court decision is to allow the public prosecutor’s office to have more time to continue and complete the investigation it is undertaking and subsequently decide whether or not to file a formal criminal charge. The court acceded to the plea of the prosecution that it be allowed to further examine some materials seized on August 28, 2007 and to possibly interrogate further witnesses.

At the same time, the court decision acknowledges that so far there is no prima facie or incriminating evidence against me. The District Court of The Hague has stated that at the current state of the investigation a conviction is highly unlikely. Since the examining judge (rechter-commissaris) decided to close the preliminary investigation on 21 November 2007, the prosecution has not turned up any evidence to overturn the decision of the The Hague Court of Appeal on October 3, 2007 declaring that there is no prima facie evidence against me.

The more than six thick folders presented by the prosecutors during the May 20, 2008 hearing of my complaint against the prolongation of the investigation, in the view of the court, contain no evidence shedding a new light on the aforesaid decision of The Hague Court of Appeal. My lawyer Michiel Pestman and I derided as “more of the same rubbish” the folders presented by the prosecutors during the May 20 hearing of my complaint against the prolongation of the investigation and my demand for the investigation to be closed and for the case to be dropped.

The aforesaid Agence France Presse report also makes it appear that the Dutch prosecution is about to file formal charges of murder against me in court. That is not true. The prosecution has not yet taken such a decision. In court it announced that such a decision is expected before December 1, 2008. I am confident that the prosecution will decide to drop the case against me.

Before it can file a case against me in court, the prosecution has to go through several stages. It must first be able to find prima facie evidence and go to court to ask for the appointment of a new examining judge. Then the prosecution gathers further witnesses and evidence and allows me and my counsel to cross examine the witnesses and get my witnesses. After the round, we can all go to court for trial of the formal charge.

However, we must remember that aside from ruling that there is no prima facie evidence against me the Court of Appeal in The Hague also ruled that there is a political context of the unfounded charge against me. Within that context, there can be no due process because the witnesses provided by the Arroyo government to the Dutch government are unreliable and it is doubtful whether I can cross-examine all such witnesses and get witnesses in my favor from the Philippines.

In sharp contrast to the absence of prima facie evidence against me, the Dutch prosecution office and Dutch police have turned up witnesses and documentary evidence to prove that two assassination teams were dispatched from the Philippines to The Netherlands to kill me within the period of 1999-2001. But the Dutch authorities have not moved to pursue a serious investigation of these grave criminal acts and infringements of Dutch sovereignty and territory.

For the purpose of legal action, my lawyers are studying the failure of the Dutch authorities to act promptly on the findings about the assassination projects of the Philippine authorities.###