Monday, June 24, 2013

Military court set to decide fate of ex-Special Forces leader

From the Philippine Star (Jun 24): Military court set to decide fate of ex-Special Forces leader

A military tribunal will meet this week to decide on the fate of an Army officer being tried over the Al Barka clash in 2011 that left 19 soldiers dead.

Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr., one of the members of the court martial, said they would soon issue a ruling on the case of Lt. Col. Leo Peña, the former chief of the 4th Special Forces Battalion.

“We will meet for the executive session. We will conduct a deliberation and we will meet this week and from there we will vote accordingly,” Tutaan said.

“We are done with the oral arguments. It’s now for the court (to decide) so we will now discuss them and we will make our verdict,” he added.

Peña and three other officers have been accused of violating Articles of War No. 97 or conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman in conjunction with Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code for acts of negligence; Article no. 97 or disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and military discipline and Article no. 84 or willful or negligent loss, damage or wrongful disposition.

Two of the officers namely former Special Operations Task Force Basilan chief Col. Alexander Macario and Special Forces Regiment Training School commandant Lt. Col. Orlando Edralin have been cleared of the charges due to insufficient evidence.

The court martial, however, found Col. Aminkadra Undug, the former chief of the Army’s Special Forces Regiment, guilty of violating Articles of War no. 97.

Owing to  the conviction, Undug was barred from holding any command or duty position for at least six months. The verdict also lowered Undug’s ranking in the lineal list which is a basis in granting promotions.

Nineteen soldiers were killed and 14 others were injured after Army troops clashed with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members at sitio Baisung, barangay Cambug in Al Barka, Basilan on Oct. 18, 2011.

Soldiers who figured in the clash were supposed to serve a warrant of arrest on MILF commander Dan Laksaw Asnawi, who was tagged in the killing of 14 Marines in Basilan in 2007, lawless element Long Malat and Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama.

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