First po­lice con­vic­tion in drug war killing

> Trio jailed up to 40 years for mur­der­ing stu­dent

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

MANILA: A Philip­pine court yes­ter­day sen­tenced three po­lice of­fi­cers to up to 40 years in jail for the mur­der of a 17-year-old stu­dent, the first to be con­victed in Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s drugs war.

The Caloocan City re­gional trial court de­clared the three po­lice guilty for the killing of Kian Lloyd de­los San­tos in Au­gust last year in a dark, trash-filled al­ley in a north­ern sub­urb in the cap­i­tal Manila.

“A shoot first, think later at­ti­tude can never be coun­te­nanced in a civilised so­ci­ety,” said the rul­ing by judge Roldolfo Azu­cena.

“Never has homi­cide or mur­der been a func­tion of law en­force­ment.

“The pub­lic peace is never pred­i­cated on the cost of hu­man life.”

This was the first case of what hu­man rights ad­vo­cates say was an ex­tra­ju­di­cial killing car­ried out by state agents in the 29month war on drugs, which saw close to 5,000 peo­ple dead in po­lice anti-drugs op­er­a­tions.

Po­lice re­ject al­le­ga­tions that the killings were ex­e­cu­tions, say­ing the drug ped­dlers and users were killed in shootouts, and that they were act­ing in self-de­fence.

The death of the teenager has stirred un­prece­dented pub­lic at­ten­tion on what ac­tivists say are ex­e­cu­tions and sys­tem­atic abuses by po­lice backed stead­fastly by Duterte.

Duterte, a fire­brand leader who un­leashed a fe­ro­cious war against il­le­gal drugs af­ter com­ing into of­fice in June 2016, has more than once said he would not al­low the po­lice to go to jail for killing drug users and push­ers.

But shortly af­ter the ver­dict was handed down, Duterte’s spokesman, Sal­vador

Panelo, said: “This is mur­der, there is in­ten­tion to kill.

“The pres­i­dent would never tol­er­ate that.” Duterte’s govern­ment has re­peat­edly said there was no de­clared pol­icy to kill drug users and push­ers.

“The con­vic­tion of the three po­lice of­fi­cers for mur­der­ing Kian de los San­tos is a vic­tory for jus­tice but it is not enough,” Free Le­gal As­sis­tance Group (FLAG) chair­man Jose Manuel Dio­kno said.

“The killings must stop.”

FLAG has ques­tioned the le­gal­ity of the drugs war be­fore the Philip­pine Supreme Court.

San­tos was found dead in an al­ley with a gun in his left hand.

Po­lice said they killed him in self­de­fence, but his fam­ily dis­missed that as a lie.

Se­cu­rity cam­eras showed the of­fi­cers ag­gres­sively es­cort­ing a man match­ing San­tos’ de­scrip­tion in the di­rec­tion of the spot where he was killed.

“Jus­tice was served for my son,” San­tos’ mother, Lorenza de­los San­tos, told re­porters out­side the court­room.

“We were able to prove that my son was in­no­cent of all the ac­cu­sa­tions hurled against him.” – Reuters

Two of the con­victed po­lice of­fi­cers, wear­ing yel­low shirts, are es­corted out­side the court af­ter be­ing sen­tenced for the mur­der of San­tos yes­ter­day

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