Two Philippine politicians wanted for the murder of a prominent activist have been arrested in Thailand.
Joel Reyes, the former governor of Palawan province, and his brother Mario Reyes, a former town mayor, were detained on the Thai island of Phuket by the local authorities. The brothers had been residing in a rented house in Phuket’s Muang district for about three years.
According to the Thai police, the pair would initially be charged under the Thai Immigration law as Joel Reyes entered Thailand illegally and Mario had overstayed his visa. The fugitives are expected to be deported back to the Philippines to stand trial after their prosecution under the Immigration Act.
The pair confessed that they had been hiding in the Kingdom to avoid their arrest. They thanked the Thai authorities and people for their time in the country and hoped for a return visit.
The Reyes brothers, who ran ore-mining business, is accused of killing Gerry Ortega in 2011. Mr. Ortega was an anti-corruption activist who opposed their mining operations in the region. He also hosted a radio show on which he frequently accused the former politicians for massive corruption.
The detainees have denied the murder accusation, claiming that their political opponents were behind the charges. The brothers slipped out of the country in 2012 after a Palawan court issued warrants for their arrests.
The activist was shot in the head while shopping in the capital of Palawan, western province of the Philippines known for its beautiful beaches and natural landscape. The attacker was caught trying to flee the crime scene and the weapon used in the assassination was registered on one of Joel Reyes’s lawyers.
Apart from environmental crimes, Ortega had accused Joel Reyes of bagging millions of dollars in revenues from a gas field off the coast of the island during his tenure as a governor. IMAGE/ AFP