Thursday 12 December 2019

Officials believe Canadian hostage killed in Philippines

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The Canadian Prime Minister says his government has "compelling reason to believe" that a second Canadian held hostage in the Philippines has been killed by his captors.

Justin Trudeau said in a statement that Robert Hall was likely killed, and the Canadian government is working with authorities in the Philippines to confirm his death.

The apparent death comes less than two months after Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel in the southern Philippine province of Sulu after a ransom demand of 300 million pesos (£4.4m) was not paid.

Mr Trudeau reiterated on Monday that Canada will not pay ransom that would endanger the lives of more Canadians.

The Abu Sayyaf group has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the Philippines.

Mr Hall and Mr Ridsdel were abducted from a marina on southern Samal Island along with a Norwegian and a Filipino, and were taken by boat to Sulu.

In the Philippines, the military said it had received intelligence reports that the Abu Sayyaf had beheaded Mr Hall after failing to receive a ransom by a new deadline of mid-afternoon on Monday.

Troops were attempting to validate the reports, and the military would not confirm the killing in the absence of any clear evidence, regional military spokesman Major Filemon Tan said.

"While we're not seeing any evidence, we can't conclude anything and we can't confirm or deny," Maj Tan said by telephone.

"The government of Canada will not and cannot pay ransoms for hostages to terrorist groups, as doing so would endanger the lives of more Canadians," Mr Trudeau said.

"We are more committed than ever to working with the government of the Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for these heinous acts and bring them to justice, however long it takes."

Mr Trudeau recently urged leaders of the other members the Group of Seven rich countries to reiterate their opposition to paying ransoms.

The Prime Minister extended his "heartfelt condolences" to Mr Hall's family and friends.

"They have suffered a terrible loss, and this is a devastating moment for them. Our thoughts are with them as they mourn this tragedy," he said.

PA Media

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