‘COMFORTABLE HOUSE’ FOR TWO RUSSIAN DRUG SUSPECTS
President Duterte has pledged that two accused Russian drug traffickers will be detained in a “comfortable house,” rather than his nation’s badly overcrowded jails.
Mr. Duterte made the commitment at a meeting late on Monday with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Manila.
“I would just like to say that we have a working functional justice system here and they will get a fair trial and that they will be detained in a comfortable house,” Mr. Duterte told Medvedev, according to an official transcript.
“Whether (the allegations are) true or not, we
will find out but I will see to it that they are treated fairly and no additional stress on their person that will happen,” he added.
Yuri Kirdyushkin and Anastasia Novopashina are under investigation for drug smuggling but had not been convicted, Mr. Duterte said.
Mr. Duterte’s 16-month administration has been dominated by a crackdown on illegal drugs in which police have reported killing 3,967 suspects.
Another 2,290 people have been murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.
Human rights issue
Rights groups and domestic critics say the crackdown could be a crime against humanity, warning that police and hired assassins are carrying out mass murder.
Mr. Duterte has repeatedly railed against his critics and insisted human rights should take a backseat to eradicating drug traffickers.
He has also said he would be happy for all Filipino drug addicts to be “slaughtered.” Rights groups say the crackdown has also added pressure on the country’s extremely overcrowded prisons, with inmates forced to endure abject living conditions.
In many cases, prisoners have to take turns sleeping while waiting for years for their cases to go through the courts.
Mr. Duterte did not provide details on the two Russians’ cases, and the Russian Embassy and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency spokespersons told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that they could not immediately comment on the case.
Previous news reports have said Kirdyushkin was arrested with about 10 kilos of cocaine at Manila airport on Oct. 5 last year.
Manila airport customs police detained Novopashina in November last year after finding nearly 13 kg of cocaine in her luggage, the reports said.
Russia’s ties with the Philippines, a longtime US ally, have been improving dramatically under Mr. Duterte.
Mr. Duterte is a self-described socialist and fan of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Duterte on Monday also thanked Russia for supplying guns and other weapons that he said helped defeat Islamist militants in Marawi City.
The official transcript of Monday’s meeting did not include Medvedev’s response on the two detained suspects.
To Russia with love!
SUMMITWELCOME President Duterte welcomes Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev before Monday’s opening ceremony of the Asean Summit.