MANILA – A 20-year-old Spaniard arrested in the Philippines for alleged links with terrorism said he was not guilty in an affidavit accusing the Filipino army of illegally detaining him and framing him with false evidence.
Abdelhakim Labidi Adib, born in Madrid in 1997 to Tunisian parents, went handcuffed to the Justice Department headquarters in Manila, where he met his lawyer and presented an affidavit to the prosecutor, who will decide whether to file charges against him within a maximum of a 60-day period.
Labidi was caught by soldiers on Jan. 22 with two hand grenades and explosives in his bag on the southern island of Basilan, a bastion of the Abu Sayyaf terror group, according to the armed forces.
The military said that Labidi, who arrived in the Philippines on Oct. 10, was a sympathizer of the Abu Sayyaf group, an organization affiliated to the Islamic State (IS) terror organization. The Abu Sayyaf group has been the protagonist of several attacks and kidnappings in recent years.
The suspect Wednesday declared in his affidavit that he went to Philippines as a tourist, denied that he is Muslim, said he had no connection with Islamic terrorism, and he was tricked by another young man whom he met in Mindanao, and ended up in Basilan, an island away from the tourist routes owing to the high probability of kidnapping.
Labidi alleged that he was arrested illegally on a road on the island where there was no check post, and the bag submitted as proof did not belong to him.
The suspect argued in his affidavit, accompanied with photos, that the bag was new and still retained the labels, something unusual considering that he had spent several weeks in the Basilan jungle.
After submitting the affidavit, Labidi was sent back to the detention center where he is being held in the Philippine capital pending the prosecutor’s decision.
Following trips to Tunisia and Morocco, Labidi arrived in Manila on Oct. 10 and spent several months in the cities of Davao and Cagayan de Oro, in the Mindanao region, before finally moving to Basilan, which does not figure on the tourist itinerary due to extremist groups operating in the area.
The suspect, who was carrying an identity card with a Madrid address that expired in 2016, lived in Spain and France during his student years, whereas his family lives in Germany, he told EFE on Wednesday.
More recently he lived in Switzerland, where he had a work permit and held temporary jobs.