Davao City, May 20, 2002 (STAR) By Edith Regalado - A British man, who was seriously injured in a powerful blast here, is likely to face criminal charges for keeping explosives in his hotel room, authorities said

Armed police guards have been posted at a hospital room where Michael Meiring, 65, is recuperating from severe injuries that broke both his legs and caused burns on parts of his body, city police chief Samuel Yordan said.

Explosives tore through Meiring’s room at the Evergreen Hotel last Thursday. Police have ruled out "outside perpetrators."

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte himself could not hide his disgust for the foreigner. "The blast was all his fault and I don’t like his behavior when he refused to cooperate with the police when he was accosted days before the incident," he said in his TV program yesterday.

Yordan said dynamite stored in the room had caused the explosion, which damaged several of the Evergreen Hotel’s 52 rooms. Damage was placed at P2 million.

Reports said Meiring owes the hotel some P250,000 for his accommodation since he arrived here last Dec. 14. He has been in and out of the country in the past 10 years.

"The guy may now be in a sorry state because he is in the hospital. But he has to be answerable for what happened. I hold him liable for it, and I express my disgust for him," Duterte said.

Police have said Meiring is a treasure hunter who could have been using the explosives to help his team dig for buried treasure around Davao.

The region is said to be a trove of loot left by retreating Japanese troops in World War II.

Meiring is likely to be charged with possession of explosives because the authorities have not found documents that would have authorized him to keep them, Yordan added.

Duterte said Meiring had been under surveillance by police intelligence agents since May 10 when he was found in possession of fake US federal bank notes at the city’s fishport in Toril district.

The mayor said policemen searched Meiring’s room at Evergreen Hotel but the British national, who had acquired American citizenship, acted arrogantly and barred the lawmen from entering the bathroom where he was believed to have kept the explosives.

"If that guy is into treasure hunting, why couldn’t he show the pertinent papers and why would he look for treasures here? Let him go home and get treasures from where he came from," Duterte said. — With AFP

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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