KIDAPAWAN CITY: Police on Friday filed charges of direct assault with murder against Esmael Nasser, the leader of an armed group that stormed the North Cotabato District Jail (NCDJ) that set free 158 inmates last January 5.
North Cotabato Police director, Sr. Supt. Emmanuel Peralta, said 19 followers of Nasser, alias Commander Derbi, were also included in the charge sheet filed before the Kidapawan City Prosecution Office.
Peralta said empty cartridges from M-14 Armalite rifles were recovered in the thickly forested vicinity of the jail, particularly in Sitio Nazareth, Barangay Amas and Sitio Centro, Barangay East Patadon of Matalam, North Cotabato.
The suspects remain at large.
Speaking to a radio station last Thursday, Nasser admitted that he led the attack to rescue a companion and to retaliate against then Jail Warden Supt. Peter John Bongngat, who allegedly ordered the destruction of a mosque inside the jail facility last year.
Bongngat denied Nasser’s claim, maintaining that the mosque was not destroyed.
At about 1 a.m. on Jan. 5, about 20 armed men led by Nasser attacked the jail facility, killed a jail officer, and set free 158 detainees.
Nasser was arrested and jailed at the NCDJ for murder and a series of bombings, including one incident in Kabacan, North Cotabato in 2013. He bolted jail in August last year.
North Cotabato acting Gov. Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva said Casangyao promised to pay Nasser PHP1 million if he could rescue him and two .60 caliber machine guns if the mission is successful.