Tunisian cleared of terror charges due to doubts about police account

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Tunisian
Police paraded Tunisian after his arrest for being a member of the Islamic State and for possessing a gun and explosives. All charges against him have now been dropped.

Charges have been dropped against a Tunisian man who was accused of being an Islamic State terrorist and possessing explosives.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed a criminal complaint filed by the police and Army against Fehmi Lassqued (who was originally said to be Egyptian) and his Filipina live-in partner Anabel Salipada for ‘lack of merit’.

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In a seven-page resolution, the (DOJ) dismissed firearms charges against the pair after they were arrested in Ermita, Manila, last month.

“After a careful review and evaluation of the evidence submitted by the parties, the undersigned finds no probable cause to charge respondents for violations of RA 10591 and RA 9516,” read the DOJ’s resolution.

“Basic and well-established is the rule that the party alleging has the burden of substantiating his allegation and any declaration or assertion not so substantiated is, at best, a self-serving statement or declaration which is inadmissible in evidence for being hearsay.”

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Police claimed to have seized a pistol and explosive devices from the couple.

Both Lassqued and Salipada denied the allegations in separate counter-affidavits.

The Tunisian said contrary to the police’s claim, he was not arrested in Ermita, but in Ayala Triangle while he was taking a cigarette break during a Spanish class.

“I don’t own and I don’t have in my possession those items allegedly recovered specifically the gun, bullets an the alleged ammunition. I just saw it for the first time during the inquest proceedings,” his counter-affidavit continued.

“Even if the subject gun, ammunition and other items will be subjected to fingerprint examination, my marks cannot be found there because I never touched it, held it, nor possessed it.”

Salipada also denied owning the explosives and pistol. She said while the police searched their apartment in Manila she was taken and held outside the apartment.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong said that among the evidence presented, both the suspects and the arresting officers admitted photographs of the seized items taken at the scene did not include the arresting officers or the suspects.

Ong noted that two other photographs showing the suspects with the seized items were taken elsewhere.

The prosecutor also learned that Salipada was taken to the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center on February 17 for medical checks while Lassoued was taken to the Army General Hospital the following day.

“Finally, the fact that both respondents underwent medical examination at two different places and on two different occasions suggests that they were arrested in separate places at different time,” he said.

On top of this, the DOJ’s resolution also noted that the allegedly recovered pistol was fake.

The police have been directed to return money and a mobile phone they confiscated from the pair.

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