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3 Filipino men face death for kidnapping Japanese.

MANILA, May 5 Kyodo

A Philippine court has sentenced three Filipino men to death for the 2003 kidnapping of a Japanese man from his home on Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines, a court official said Friday.

Judge Romeo Buenaflor of the Cantilan Regional Trial Court found cousins Jovel Apole, Rolando Apole and Renato Apole guilty ''beyond reasonable doubt'' of the crimes of kidnapping and robbery with violence and handed down the sentence on April 20.

The three convicts were among 10 people charged in the abduction of Japanese national Yasumitsu Hashiba, 50, on Jan. 23, 2003. The court cleared the seven others for lack of evidence.

Based on court records, Hashiba, a native of Tokyo who owned a merchandise store in the town of Cantilan, was kidnapped on the evening of Jan. 23, 2003 from his home in Bunga village, Lanuza town, Surigao del Sur Province.

The three Apoles, armed with pistols and a hand grenade, barged into Hashiba's residence along with two others, tied up his Filipino wife Emilie Lopio, their children and Emilie's father, and drove away with Hashiba along with cash and jewelry worth 150,000 pesos ($2,941), the records show.

The abductors, who threatened to kill Hashiba if his family notified the police, later contacted them and demanded a random of 1 million pesos. He was freed six days later on the island of Dinagat, hundreds of kilometers north of his residence, in the same province.

The court also ordered each of the Apoles to pay Hashiba 75,000 pesos in moral and exemplary damages for the abduction and 153,000 pesos for robbery.

The lower court decision will be automatically forwarded to the Court of Appeals.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:May 8, 2006
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