From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 14): Accused in Burnham kidnapping released on Independence Day
US hostages Gracia Burnham (L) and her husband Martin Burnham (R) are seen in this video footage dated 25 November 2001 and shown on local GMA television 04 February 2002. AFP FILE PHOTO
One of the accused in the kidnapping of American couple Martin and Gracia Burnham was set free on Independence Day.
Commissioner Edilwassif Baddiri of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) said Kudairi Paraja Abdulla, 35, of Lampinigan village in Isabela City, was officially discharged from the Special Intensive Care Area 1 of Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig on Friday.
Baddiri said Abdulla’s release was ordered by the court handling the Burnham kidnapping case after witnesses failed to identify him as among Abu Sayyaf members involved in the 2002 Dos Palmas incident.
Dozens of Abu Sayyaf gunmen raided the Palawan resort and snatched several people including the Burnhams.
Martin would later die in a botched military operation aimed at rescuing him.
“The witnesses could not say he was among the suspects,” Baddiri said.
Abdulla was arrested by authorities in his village in Isabela City last year.
He was briefly placed under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) here before being moved to Bicutan.
He has maintained that he was an ordinary fisherman and had never had any link with the bandit group.
Speaking to the Inquirer, Abdulla said his release was a cause for celebration.
“This is the happiest day for me. I’m preparing apam apam (pancake) and coffee to celebrate,” he said.
Abdulla said he could not understand to this day why he got implicated in the Burnham kidnapping.