Abu Sayyaf leader pleads 'not guilty' to kidnapping

MANILA, Philippines – Khair Mundos, considered a “leader” of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, pleaded “not guilty” to kidnapping charges filed against him.

On Monday, March 2, Mundos entered his not guilty plea before Judge Gregorio dela Peña III of the Regional Trial Court Branch 12 in Zamboanga city.

A pre-trial was ordered by Dela Peña following Mundos’ plea. The trial, specifically the presentation of evidence, is scheduled on Tuesday, March 3, at 2 pm.

Mundos, tagged a “key leader and financier” of the Abu Sayyaf was nabbed by Philippine police in June 2014 after an almost 7-year manhunt. Mundos, at the time of his arrest, had standing warrants of arrest for multiple murder, multiple frustrated, and multiple attempted murder.

The US State Department had offered $500,000 for information leading to his arrest, under its “Rewards for Justice” program.

Mundos had been jailed before in 2004 for money laundering. He was, however, able to escape the Kidapawan provincial jail in February 2007. Prior to his escape, Mundos admitted he facilitated the transfer of funds from the al-Qaeda to Abu Sayyaf Group leader Khadaffy Janjalani.

The money, the US State Department said, was used in “bombings and other criminals acts” in Mindanao. – Bea Cupin/Rappler.com