ZAMBOANGA CITY – A day after the Philippine military announced the recovery of a headless body believed that of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then, security officials on Friday said they erred in the report and now claimed that troops were still searching for his cadaver.
The 39-year old Malaysian man from Sarawak in Sabah was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Filipino town of Indanan on November 17 after his family failed to pay ransom. Bernard was executed hours after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived in Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Bernard’s bloodied head was recovered the same night abandoned in the town of Jolo.
Captain Roy Trinidad, a military spokesman, previously confirmed that troops recovered the headless cadaver from a shallow grave in Indanan’s Kagay village. “Authorities are determining if the severed head and the recovered body are that of Malaysian national Bernard Then,” he said in previous statement to journalists.
On Friday, Trinidad said “no headless cadaver was recovered last November 18 in the village of Kagay as previously reported. Kagay is the focus of the search where the cadaver was reportedly buried,” he said without further elaborating.
Bernard was kidnapped by armed rebels in May this year along with the 50-year old Thien Nyuk Fun, manager of Ocean King Restaurant in Sandakan town in Sabah, and spirited them to southern Philippines.
Thien was freed by rebels just this month in what Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed was the result of successful negotiations with her captors.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding several foreign hostages, including two Canadians, a Norwegian, an Italian and Filipinos kidnapped from different provinces in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)
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