Ustadz freed after 27 hours in detention but…

Ustadz Kusain Abedin, 31, a member of the United Youth for Peace and Development (Unypad) and Bantay Ceasefire, a grassroots-based monitor, was arrested without warrant by Task Force Tugis at the bus terminal in Cotabato City at around 7 p.m. Thursday. He was released to the custody of lawyer Mary Ann Arnado of the Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus and Bantay Ceasefire, at around 9:40 tonight (Friday).

Abedin and his relatives were brought to the St. Joseph Retreat House for the night.

Arnado said Abedin was freed “with the undertaking that I produce him to Task Force Tugis upon their request if further needed.

The Ustadz, said Arnado, has decided not to file a case against the police.

Abedin, who hails from a “space for peace” in Pikit, North was arrested allegedly on a mere text message that a “bomber” was on board a bus from Pikit, North Cotabato, Sittie Sundang, spokesperson of Kawagib (Maguindanaon term for ‘rights’) told MindaNews in a telephone interview.

Sundang said arresting officers on board two vehicles – a maroon van with plate number SSU 275 and a white L-300 van without plate number – forced Ustadz Kusain Abedin, 31, whom the police suspected to be a “bombmaking expert” to disembark from the bus, and board the van.

No warrant of arrest was presented to Abedin, Sundang said.

Abedin went to Cotabato City to assist in the distribution of relief goods in the conflict-affected areas in Maguindanao and to serve in the buffer zone at the Bantay Ceasefire monitoring outpost in Delembong, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

Arnado had earlier asked Col. Salvador Calanoy, Task Force Tugis chief for a copy of the warrant of arrest but the copy showed her did not mention any Abedin. Calanoy could not be reached for comment.

Arnado said she had earlier asked Calanoy to release Abedin to her custody but her request was denied. But she was able to talk to Abedin and later in the afternoon, she got Abedin’s immediate family to visit him in detention. Calanoy later freed granted Arnado’s request to take Abedin in custody.

Sundang said that when the Task Force elements were forcing Abedin to get off the bus, Abedin managed to call his colleagues at Unypad who, arrived at the Weena bus terminal just as the vans were speeding off. The Unypad members followed the vans.

Sundang said the arresting officers could not show a warrant of arrest. She said Kawagib and Atty. Anwar Malang went to the Task Force Tugis base inside PC Hill at 9 a.m. but they were made to wait until 1 p.m.

Sundang said a photocopy of a warrant of arrest dated April 6, 2005, issued by Judge Antonio Lubao of Regional Trial Court Branch 22 in General Santos City, listed names of supposed bombing suspects but Abedin’s name was not in the warrant., She said the names mentioned were “Elmeremran Norodin, Mangelen Sabiri Abdu, et al.”

Sundang said Task Force officials told them Abedin was using the alias “Abdul Sabidi” but even the alias was not listed in the warrant of arrest.

Arnado said Calanoy informed her he would have Abedin freed by 8 p.m. Friday if the informant from M’lang in North Cotabato, clears Abedin.

Abedin was freed at around 9:40 p.m. (MindaNews)