‘COM­FORT­ABLE HOUSE’ FOR TWO RUS­SIAN DRUG SUS­PECTS

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —AFP

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.

Co­caine pos­ses­sion

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.

Putin fan

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!

—AFP

SUMMITWELCOME Pres­i­dent Duterte wel­comes Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev be­fore Mon­day’s open­ing cer­e­mony of the Asean Sum­mit.

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