MANILA- (UPDATE) A Pasig City court has convicted Abu Sayyaf leader Hector Janjalani over the mass abduction of students and teachers in Basilan 18 years ago.
Hector is the brother of Abu Sayyaf founders Abdurajak and Khadaffy Janjalani who were killed in 1998 and 2006, respectively.
Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 261 Judge Florian Gregory Abalajon on Thursday said it found Janjalani guilty of 18 counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention while Abu Sayyaf member Daud Baru was found guilty of 52 counts.
Another accused, Abdulazan Diamla, was acquitted.
The promulgation of judgment was held at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa where the three are held.
The conviction and acquittal follows an earlier promulgation of the same ruling of the same Pasig court at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig on Dec. 14.
According to Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, the names of Janjalani, Baru and Diamla were purposely redacted in an earlier copy of the dispositive portion of the ruling released to the media to avoid preempting the promulgation of judgment on Thursday morning.
The Pasig court had convicted 66 Abu Sayyaf members and acquitted 20 others over their involvement in the 2000 kidnapping incidents.
Fifty-two students and teachers from Tumahubong Elementary and Claret schools in Sumisip town were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf on March 20, 2000, including priest Rhoel Gallardo and three teachers who were found dead in May 2000.
Among those originally charged were Abu Sayyaf leaders Khadaffy Janjalani, Abu Sabaya, and Isnilon Hapilon, who have since died.
Their names were no longer included in the list of those convicted because under Philippine criminal laws, death extinguishes criminal liability.
For every count, the convicts were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
The convicted Abu Sayyaf members were also ordered to pay the heirs of each victim P180,000 in damages.