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Batasan bomber gets life term

Despite the conviction of principal suspect Iram Indama, the family of one of the slain victims said justice continues to elude them as the masterminds are yet to be held accountable. File

MANILA, Philippines — After 10 years, the man accused of setting off a bomb at the House of Representatives – killing five and wounding 10 – was convicted of multiple murder and attempted murder by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) and sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole. 

Despite the conviction of principal suspect Iram Indama, the family of one of the slain victims said justice continues to elude them as the masterminds are yet to be held accountable. 

RTC Branch 84 Judge Ralph Lee yesterday found Indama guilty and said his “single purpose (was) to kill Congressman Wahab Akbar” of Basilan through the use of an improvised bomb.

Indama was identified as the person who drove a motorcycle and parked it near the lobby of the South Wing of the House of Representatives complex. The bomb exploded at 8 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2007, killing Akbar and four others and injuring 10 more. 

He had admitted to the crime in at least five signed affidavits that outlined the execution of the bombing – from the planning which started in Basilan to the actual explosion – but recanted it a few months later, claiming he was coerced into signing the confessions through physical and psychological torture. 

The court negated the recantation though, as it ruled that his testimony was “sincere” and given without hesitation.

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“It was detailed, candid and could not have been a concoction from a polluted mind. Indama’s admissions in his affidavits, even if uncorroborated, deserve full weight and credence, therefore sufficient to establish the crime charged,” Judge Lee ruled.

The heirs of the slain victims – Akbar, Martial Taldo, Jul-Asiri Hayudini, Maan Gale Bustalino and Denis Manila – were awarded P205,000 each for moral damages, civil indemnity, temperate damages and exemplary damages. 

The surviving victims – former congressmen Henry Teves and Luzviminda Ilagan, Israel Lim, Kumhar Indanan, Larry Noda, Paula Dunga, Rodolfo Relente, Allan Mangulabna, Frederick del Castillo and Vercita Garcia – were also awarded P95,000 each for moral damages, exemplary damages and temperate damages. 

“My feelings are ambivalent – relief, sadness, anger. What was his motive? Why the low-key, almost anonymous trial? Not that I wanted a sensational trial but the families of the victims would have wanted to know how the case was progressing,” said Ilagan, a former Gabriela representative and now social welfare undersecretary.

Ilagan lost her driver, Marcial Talbo, in the incident.

Although suspects Caidar Aunal and Adhaim Kusain were charged together with Indama, Lee found them not guilty after the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt their participation in the Batasan bombing.

Aunal was said to have been present at the house where the bombing plan was hatched. Kusain was also implicated because he owned the motorcycle used in the incident.

Aside from both decisions, Lee also ordered the issuance of a bench warrant for the arrest of suspects Hajarun Jamiri, a certain Jang and Police Officer 1 Bayan Judda.

Although former congressman Gerry Salapuddin was also among the accused, he was dropped from the list of suspects following a 2013 Supreme Court resolution.

Didang Hayudini Caico, the surviving sister of Hayudini, said her family is not satisfied with the outcome of the case as she plans to ask President Duterte to investigate several Mindanao-based politicians.

She added that she’d rather have Indama go free if the masterminds to the bombing would be named.

Indama, Aunal and Kusain were arrested following a firefight during the implementation of a search warrant, wherein two men and one woman – Abu Jandal, Redwan Indama and Saing Indama – were killed. 

In his first affidavit, Indama claimed he was bound for Manila when his cousin, Redwan, approached him about a “mission” to kill the congressman. 

He denied knowing the mastermind but declared that he, Redwan, Saing, Benjamin “Jang” Hataman, Abu Jandal, an alias Bong, Aunal and Kusain plotted the bombing at Greenbucks in Manila.

Indama recounted that he brought the motorcycle to the Batasan complex but was told by Jang Hataman that Akbar was not there, prompting him to return the next day. It was then that the vehicle, packed with an improvised bomb, was detonated via cellphone.

He added that two bombs were made, one to be placed inside the Batasan complex and the other at Akbar’s residence.

Harajun Jamiri, owner of the motorcycle that held the second bomb, implicated Rep. Mujiv Hataman and Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman but later recanted all his statements.

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