Three officers jailed for decades over killing of high school student in first conviction of its kind.
Manila, Philippines – A court in the Philippines has found three police officers guilty of murder for the 2017 killing of a 17-year-old high school student, the first such convictions over the tactics used in president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
The three police officers were sentenced to up to 40 years in prison by a Caloocan regional trial court on Thursday, the first guilty verdict in an extrajudicial killing in the 29-month anti-narcotics campaign, according to human rights advocates.
They will not be eligible for parole, the court said.
Kian Loyd delos Santos was shot dead in August 2017, a killing that stirred unprecedented public attention on what activists say are systematic abuses by police backed steadfastly by Duterte.
Jose Manuel Diokno, chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag), said: “The conviction of the three police officers for murdering Kian delos Santos is a victory for justice but it is not enough. The killings must stop.”
Flag has questioned the legality of the drugs war before the Philippine supreme court.
Close to 5,000 people have died in anti-drugs police operations and more than 2,500 others have been killed by unknown vigilante groups in what police said were drug-related incidents.
Human rights advocates said most of the victims who police said had resisted arrests were actually unlawfully killed because there was a pattern to how they were killed. Police denied the allegations, saying they acted in self defence.
Duterte’s government has repeatedly said there was no declared policy to kill drug users and pushers.
Delos Santos was found dead in an alley with a gun in his left hand. Police said they killed him in self defence.
Security cameras showed the officers aggressively escorting a man matching delos Santos’s description in the direction of the spot where he was killed.
Two months after that killing, Duterte ordered the police to stop its anti-drugs operations as the school boy’s murder sparked public outrage. He reinstated the role of police in the drugs war in December last year, saying the drug situation had worsened.