A Philippine police officer has been jailed for up to 40 years for the kidnapping and killing of a South Korean businessman during former president Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, court documents seen by AFP on Thursday show.
Jee Ick-joo was abducted from his home north of Manila in October 2016 by a group including narcotics officers under the guise of a raid for illegal drugs and later killed inside the national police headquarters in the capital.
The case sparked fears of rogue police inside the force and led Duterte to briefly suspend police participation in his drug war, which killed thousands of people and is now under investigation by the International Criminal Court.
An Angeles City trial court judge on Tuesday found Senior Police Officer Ricky Santa Isabel and shopkeeper Jerry Omlang, who ran errands for police, guilty of “kidnapping with homicide”, according to a copy of the verdict.
The men were also convicted of abducting Jee’s Filipina maid, who was later freed unharmed, and of stealing the businessman’s vehicle.
They will spend up to 40 years behind bars.
The court was told the kidnappers drove Jee in his own vehicle to police headquarters in Manila where he was strangled.
His body was cremated and his ashes were disposed of.
Superintendent Rafael Dumlao, who was Santa Isabel’s superior in a nationwide anti-drugs task force and had been accused of masterminding the kidnapping and killing, was found not guilty.
The task force was disbanded after the killing.
The owner of the Manila mortuary where Jee’s body was cremated died during the trial.
Several other unidentified suspects were still on the run, the court said.
The case mostly hinged on the testimony of the maid and another police officer who took part in the abduction but later became a state witness.
The businessman’s widow testified that she paid more than half of the eight million-peso ransom ($143,000) demanded by the kidnappers, who also withdrew money from his bank account through an ATM and stole his golf clubs.
The judge ruled that the prosecutors had failed to prove conclusively that it was the kidnappers who received the ransom money.
AFP contacted the South Korean embassy in Manila for comment.