Thu, Apr 02, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Philippines’ Sison seeks removal from EU list of terrorists

AFP , MANILA

Exiled Philippine communist leader Jose Maria Sison yesterday demanded the EU remove him from its terrorist list after Dutch prosecutors dropped a murder investigation against him.

Sison said the decision on Tuesday by Dutch prosecutors to abandon a probe implicating him in political killings in the Philippines was “long overdue” and said the investigation was based on allegations by the Philippine military.

“I have always been confident that the case would eventually be dismissed because in the first place, I am innocent of the allegation,” Sison said in a statement from the Dutch city of Utrecht.

He was speaking after prosecutors said they would abandon the probe because of a lack of evidence.

Sison called on the Dutch government to “have my name removed from the terrorist list of the Council of the European Union” to compensate for what he called unspecified “injustices” he said he had suffered while seeking asylum.

Sison, 70, is the founder of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), which have been waging a Maoist rebellion since 1969.

He has been living in exile in the Netherlands since 1987, and in 2007 was arrested and accused by the Dutch authorities of ordering the killings of two former NPA commanders over ideological differences.

Peace talks between the Philippines and the CPP-NPA have been suspended since 2003, shortly after the EU placed the group as well as Sison’s name on its list of foreign terrorists.

Sison’s assets have been frozen and the Dutch authorities have also frozen his pension. Philippine authorities said the move had also resulted in a freeze on foreign funding to the rebel movement.

While the Dutch government has rejected his bid for asylum, it has not returned Sison to the Philippines because of threats to his life.

Meanwhile, NPA guerrillas continue to engage troops in deadly clashes and have also turned to extortion activities to keep the insurgency alive.

On Tuesday, NPA rebels attacked a police station in the southern city of Malaybalay, triggering a gun battle that left eight rebels, three pro-government militiamen and two civilians dead, the military said.

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