Escaped terrorist was moved to a faulty cell

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 12:00am

Suspected terrorist Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi was transferred from a more secure cell on the ground floor to a second-floor room with a defective door just weeks before he escaped, police investigators confirmed yesterday.

The finding has bolstered claims that the escape was abetted by corrupt senior police officers.

Eduardo Matillano, director of the police criminal investigation and detection group, said yesterday that Ghozi, an alleged leading member of the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network, was originally detained in a ground-floor cell 'which I think is more secure because it has a metal plate'.

It turned out that the second-floor cell door was so poorly constructed it could be opened without unlocking the padlock. All Ghozi had to do was ease the bolt out of its hole by shifting the door towards its hinges.

Mr Matillano said that Superintendent Fritz Galban, chief of the intelligence group's foreign intelligence liaison office, had Ghozi transferred to the second floor across his office 'because he was being subjected to intensive tactical interrogation'.

Last week, it was Superintendent Galban's turn to be interrogated by Mr Matillano and he flunked a lie detector test about his involvement in the escape.

But an unsigned manifesto reportedly from a police group claimed that Ghozi's escape with two Abu Sayyaf terrorists last Monday was 'staged' by Mr Matillano's faction in the police force to discredit the national police chief so they could replace him with their own man. Mr Matillano said the allegation was 'funny'.

Despite public pressure, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has refused to sack national police Director-General Hermogenes Ebdane.