Probe Eyes 10 People for Charges In Tourist Bus Crisis

09/17/10 - Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines (AHN) - A panel created by the Philippine government to investigate the Aug. 23 Hong Kong tourist bus hostage crisis Thursday recommended the filing of charges against 10 people. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who heads the Incident Investigation and Review Committee, said those who may be charged include government officials, police officers and journalists.

De Lima declined to identify anyone. She has submitted to President Benigno Aquino III the 83-page report. Outside of the 10 who she said had high degrees of accountability, the justice secretary said the IIRC would also recommend the possible inclusion in the charges of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III.

Gonzales was accused by the hostage taker, dismissed Senior Inspector Roland Mendoza of the Manila Police Department, of asking for a $3,389 (150,000 pesos) bribe to act on Mendoza’s case pending before the Office of the Ombudsman.

The IIRC recommended criminal, administrative and disciplinary charges. De Lima added she would have to wait for the president to give his go signal before she could provide details to the public of the probe body’s report.

De Lima confirmed that the bullets that killed eight Hong Kong tourists came from Mendoza’s firearms, not from the weapons of assaulting police forces. She based her conclusions on accounts of the bus driver, three Hong Kong survivors and autopsy reports of Hong Kong investigators.

The report de Lima submitted did not include the ballistics report of the Philippine National Police, which expects to finish their investigation by the end of September.

De Lima described the panel's report as very exhaustive, fact-intensive and incisive. (AHN news)

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