Cops arrest suspects in Italian ex-priest’s kidnapping

Photo Credit: Republica
  • Suspects in the kidnapping of Italian former priest arrested in Pagadian City and Zamboanga City
  • The kidnappers’ boss was also identified as “Commander Red Eye”
  • Officials said the boss was arrested for abduction in 2014, but managed to post bail

MANILA, Philippines – A suspect in the kidnapping of an Italian former priest Rolando del Torchio was arrested in Pagadian City on Friday night; as another suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf was captured in Zamboanga City Saturday morning.

In a report by Jaime Sinapit for Interaksyon posted on October 10, police report said that the Abu Sayyaf group is involved in the 2002 kidnapping of Jehovah’s Witnesses priest.

Aside from the arrested suspects, Senior Superintendent Cleve Taboso, the spokesman of the unit tasked to recover Del Torchio, revealed that they have identified the kidnapper’s boss, known as “Commander Red Eye.” The commander and four of his relatives were identified based on closed-circuit TV footage of the abduction.

The CCTV footage showed the armed men pushing the former priest, as well as several restaurant diners out of the pizzeria’s door as they escape the scene.

Taboso said that Red Eye had been arrested for another abduction in 2014; however, he managed to post bail. The spokesman believe that the group had taken the former priest on the extremists’ stronghold in Sulu, where possible rescue would be more difficult.

Photo Credit: Phil Star
Photo Credit: Phil Star

A report in Sun Star by Bong Garcia posted on October 10 said that many smaller kidnapping groups most of the time take their hostages to the island of Jolo; some 400 kilometres from Dipolog. From there, the kidnapping groups will then hand their victim over to the Abu Sayyaf who ransom them off for huge sums of money.

Zamboanga del Norte provincial highway patrol team inspector Ariel Yogyog said that 49-year-old Amante Sagario y Bagain was found to be the owner of the van used to abduct Del Torchio from his pizzeria in Dipolog City on Wednesday evening.

After a few hours, the vehicle was abandoned as the kidnappers fled with their victim using a speedboat. Bagain has reportedly been handed over to the Dipolog police for investigation.

Meanwhile, Inspector Dhalan Samuddin, acting public information officer of Police Regional Office 9, said that the alleged Abu Sayyf member was arrested in Zamboanga City around 10 a.m. The suspect, who is identified only as “Raji,” was nabbed by soldiers and police in a house on RT Lim Boulevard in Cawa-Cawa district.

A report by Florante S. Solmerin for Manila Standard Today posted on October 11 said that Raji was the subject of a warrant of arrest issued by Presiding Judge Toribio Ilao Jr. of Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 266. The suspect was charged with six counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.