Manila (Agenzia Fides) - "We are still in a preliminary phase, it is already the third time that the results of an investigation into the murder of Father Fausto Tentorio are presented, but in the past they were not enough to indict the defendants. Now let us wait and see: our hope is that justice is done, and that we know who the executors and instigators of the crime are": this is how Fr. Gianni Re, missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), Rector of the PIME regional house in Manila, comments the results of the new investigation on the murder of his confrere Fr. Fausto Tentorio (PIME), which took place in the Nord Cotabato region, on the island of Mindanao, on October 17, 2011.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) presented the formal charges of murder against 12 people, including 2 soldiers, for the killing of the Italian priest, to the Ministry of Justice. "Instead of filing a murder complaint in the city of Kidapawan, the NBI opted to file a complaint to the Ministry, asking to create a group of magistrates to follow the case", said deputy prosecutor Peter Ong, at the head of the Commission of investigation that has re-examined the case.
Last December, the Office withdrew its complaint against the brothers José Sultan and Dima Sampulna, previously accused of the murder. Among the 12 new accused there are now lieutenant Colonel Joven Gonzales and Major Mark Espiritu, and members of the "Bagani" special forces, a paramilitary group linked to the army. However, according to the prosecution, other unidentified individuals are involved in the planning of the crime, including at least 20 members of the Armed Forces who are monitoring the area near the primary school in Arakan on the day Tentorio was killed".
The detailed report of the NBI will be submitted to an accurate review and preliminary investigation by the magistrates who will have to determine the possible indictment of the defendants. Prosecutor Peter Ong explained that the new investigations, with the interrogation of more than 30 people, were conducted between May and November 2017. Witnesses said that the killing of Tentorio had been planned at least seven days before the execution, and which was completed by members of the "Bagani" group.
Father Gianni Re adds: "We do not want people who are not responsible to be condemned, just to satisfy public opinion. We hope the truth comes to light, especially on the reasons of the crime, and that justice is done. The investigation went on thanks to the tenacity of our confrere, Fr Peter Geremia, who has never stopped working for this", he recalls.
The "Bagani" paramilitary group already in the months before the murder had entered into conflict with the tribal communities that the missionary defended and helped with development programs and education. Tentorio also supported a campaign against mining operations in the area of Arakan, which environmentalists feared could upset the lives of indigenous communities. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/1/2018)