SAUDI, LIBYA HANDS-OFF IN MISUARI CASE

Manila, Jan. 25, 2003 - The Saudi Arabian government said yesterday it would not intervene in the case of former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari, who is detained on rebellion charges.

In a 14-page letter to the Saudi Arabian foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, dated last Dec. 5, Misuari sought the "unfailing understanding and support" of Saudi Arabia so he could get out of detention.

Misuari said he wrote the letter in his detention cell in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, noting that Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Manila Saleh Mohamad Al-Ghamdi would help him facilitate its delivery to the foreign minister.

But Al-Ghamdi denied receiving the letter and passing it on to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Eduardo Ermita.

Al-Ghamdi said Saudi Arabia believes that Misuari's case "is purely an internal affair" of the Philippines, adding that the court is now hearing it.

"As such, we refrained and continue to refrain from meddling in it," he said.

In his letter, Misuari assailed Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad for turning him over to the Philippine government when he fled to Malaysia after his MNLF followers staged an armed uprising in Jolo, Sulu on Nov. 19, 2001.

He also accused Mahathir of deporting him since he is one of the heirs to Sabah, which Malaysia is claiming. Misuari was subsequently detained in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on Jan. 7, 2002.

Misuari alleged that Mahathir masterminded the Sipadan hostage-taking in 2000 to divert the world's attention from the case of jailed Malaysian political oppositionist Anwar Ibrahim.

Misuari said in his letter that Malaysia and Indonesia should no longer get themselves involved in the initiatives of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to help the Muslims in Mindanao because of their vested interests.

Sources at the Department of Foreign Affairs furnished reporters a copy of Misuari's letter, which Ermita submitted to Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople.

The sources said it was Al-Ghamdi who gave Ermita the letter. But the ambassador denied this.

They said Misuari has been trying to solicit support from OIC member-countries which used to be sympathetic to him.

Libya has also taken Saudi Arabia's position, saying it could no longer help Misuari since his case is now under the jurisdiction of the Philippine courts.

Libyan Ambassador Salem Adam said his country is helping MNLF factions unite and appoint a new leader who will replace Misuari and represent them in meetings of the OIC where MNLF enjoys an observer status.


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