THE HAGUE (AFP) — A Dutch court on Wednesday rejected a prosecution appeal against the release of Philippine communist leader Jose Maria Sison, accused of being involved in murders in the Philippines.
The ruling means that Sison will remain free during the Dutch police investigation into his alleged involvement in the murders of several political associates in the Philippines.
The appeals court said "the prosecution file lacks enough concrete clues that Sison can be directly linked to the assassinations which is needed to prosecute him as a perpetrator".
The ruling upheld a lower court order in September to set Sison free.
The appeals court decision does not preclude him from being prosecuted on murder charges. The court only rules on the request to keep someone in custody, while it is the public prosecutor's office that decides on whether or not to press charges.
Sison, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing, the New People's Army, has been living in the Netherlands since 1987. He was arrested on August 28 in the Dutch town of Utrecht where he lives.
He is suspected of giving orders, from the Netherlands, to murder his former political associates in the Philippines, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara.
According to Dutch prosecutors, Sison, 68, ordered the assassination of former NPA leader Kintanar, who was killed on January 23, 2003. The murder was claimed by the NPA itself in an official publication, they said.
Prosecutors are also investigating his role in the murders of Tabara and his son-in-law Stephen Ong on September 26, 2006. Tabara was a member of the highest command of the NPA and his assassination was also claimed by that group.
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