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Dutch court orders release of Philippine communist founder.

MANILA, Sept. 13 Kyodo

A Dutch district court ordered Thursday the release of the Philippine communist party founder it held two weeks ago in the Netherlands after failing to substantiate allegations he ordered the murders of two former comrades in Manila.

The District Court of The Hague said in a statement it found no ''sufficient indications'' that Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People's Army, ordered the murders from the Netherlands, where he has been in self-exile since 1987.

''Today, the (court) decided in camera that the accused Sison should be released from custody immediately,'' said a Dutch Justice Ministry statement posted on its website.

Sison, 68, was arrested Aug. 28 in Utrecht on charges of ordering the killings of former high-ranking rebels Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara, who both had separated from the Communist Party's armed wing in early 1990s.

The National People's Army claimed responsibility for slaying Kintanar and Tabara in 2003 and 2004 in Manila.

The judges said it was clear the murders were carried out by the CPP, but it failed to directly link the crimes to Sison, whom it said is ''still playing a leading role'' in the party and its underground guerilla unit.

''The court reached the conclusion that the files do not include sufficient indications that the accused, while living in the Netherlands, committed the offenses he is charged with, in deliberate and close cooperation with the perpetrators in the Philippines,'' the ruling said.

Sison is also implicated in several criminal cases in the Philippines in a series of purges in the rebel movement more than two decades ago.

He acts as the ''political consultant'' of the Communist Party's political wing, the National Democratic Front, which has been engaged in a Norway-brokered peace deal with the government.

The talks have been stalled since 2004 over the rebels request to delist the CPP and the NPA from the European Union's and the U.S. State Department's lists of foreign terrorist organizations.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo offered amnesty to communist rebels last week in a bid to restart peace talks, but the rebels rejected the offer.

The rebels, considered to be the most serious security threat by the government, have been fighting for a Marxist state for more than three decades in an insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people.

The rebels claim to be active in 69 of the 81 Philippine provinces.

The military says their ranks have dwindled from a peak of 25,000 members in the late 1980s to about 7,000 now.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Sep 15, 2007
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