Friday, October 08, 2010

Philippine officials escape charges over Manila hijack

MANILA, Philippines - No Philippine officials will face criminal charges over their handling of a deadly bus hijacking despite the recommendations of an inquiry panel, a leaked report by a presidential legal team seen by Reuters showed on Friday.

The report, to be released on Monday, could renew anger in China over the Aug 23 hijacking in which eight Hong Kong tourists were killed and raise questions about President Benigno Aquino III's pledge to improve government accountability.

Beijing had said soon after the deaths that a fair and thorough investigation would help relieve the anger and loss of Hong Kong and Chinese people.

On Friday, Aquino's aides told reporters nothing was final until the report was officially released.

The Hong Kong tourists were killed by a sacked policeman. The poorly organized rescue attempt, televised around the world, sparked outrage and criticism of Aquino's management of the crisis and its aftermath.

The leaked document showed an inquiry panel, which included the Justice Secretary and Interior Secretary, had recommended criminal charges against Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, an Aquino ally, and former Manila police chief Rodolfo Magtibay.

The presidential legal team said the two should not face criminal action, although it said both men should still be subject to administrative sanction.
(Manny Mogato - Reuters)

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