SUSPECTED members of the Abu Sayyaf Group abducted an elderly German and his female companion from their yacht in waters off the southern Philippines, the military said yesterday.
ASG sub-leader Muamar Askali alias “Abu Rami” claimed to have seized a yacht off Sabah, with 70-year-old German Juegen Kantner and his female companion Sabine Merz aboard. The bandits said they left behind Merz.
Armed Forces of the Philippines –Western Mindanao Command spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan Jr said the military recovered the couple’s yacht in Laparan Island, Pangutaran, Sulu. Inside the boat was a body of a naked white woman, who had been shot.
He said the military had listened to an audio recording of an Abu Sayyaf leader claiming responsibility for the raid on the yacht, and the abducted German also spoke on the phone.
According to Tan, the abducted man identified himself as Jurgen Kantner and his companion as Sabine.
It appeared the victims were the same as those abducted by Somali pirates off the Gulf of Aden and held hostage for 52 days in 2008.
AFP interviewed Kantner and his wife, Sabine Merz, in 2009 about their ordeal when they returned to Somalia to retrieve their boat named the Rockall.
Despite being subjected to a mock execution during his ordeal, Kantner said the threat of kidnapping would never stop him from sailing.
“My boat is my life and I don’t want to lose her, nothing more. I don’t care about pirates and governments,” Kantner said in the 2009 interview from Berbera, the main port in Somali land.
The Philippine military released a photo on Monday of the Rockall and said it had a German flag on it.
Tan said the passports of Kantner and Merz were found on the Rockall. He said the photo in Merz’s passport appeared to match the body of the dead woman aboard, although her identity still needed to be confirmed.
Tan said Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi was sent to the area to investigate if the body belonged to Merz.
The report said the victim, who sustained a gunshot wound, was in her 50’s. “What is alarming is that the body found was naked and had several contusions on the face and was possibly raped.” Tan said
POLICE FORENSIC EXPERTS SENT TO EXAMINE GERMAN’S BODY
A TEAM of officers from the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory and the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group have been sent to Tawi-Tawi to help examine the body of a purported female German national shot dead by Abu Sayyaf bandits when they tried to seize her and her companion over the weekend.
PNP-AKG director Sr. Supt. Manolo Ozaeta dispatched his men to the area upon the request of the Armed Forces, which is initially investigating the reported kidnapping case.
“I have sent an AKG team together with personnel from the Crime Lab’s SOCO team to help identify the purported foreign victim and investigate the incident so that we can file necessary charges in court,” Ozaeta said.
PALACE ASSURES PROBE
Malacañang assured that the reported kidnapping of German sailors off Sabah is now under investigation by the authorities.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government is checking out with regional counterparts after the Abu Sayyaf Group has claimed that it has abducted a German national off Sabah.
“The matter is under investigation and the government is in conversation with our regional counterparts,” Abella said.