Police hunt down alleged ex-Abu Sayyaf member

Posted on Dec 30 2005

Police are hunting down an alleged former member of the notorious Philippine-based terrorist group Abu Sayyaf who had just been convicted and is now facing a deportation case.

The Attorney General’s Office yesterday asked the public for assistance in locating Roger Samortin Castillo, a 48-year-old Filipino farmer.

Superior Court Associate Judge David A.Wiseman issued Thursday an arrest warrant against Castillo after the Division of Immigration filed a deportation case against him.

Wiseman imposed a $1,000 cash bail for the respondent’s temporary liberty.

“If you have any information as to the whereabouts of Mr. Castillo, please call the Department of Public Safety at 664-9000. Do not attempt to approach Mr. Castillo; call the police,” said the AGO in its bulletin alert.

Assistant attorney general Ian Catlett said that Castillo poses a danger to the community, especially to his former wife. The Saipan Tribune learned that Castillo’s former wife had been placed under government protection in a safehouse.

Immigration investigator Erwin Flores stated in court papers that Castillo entered the CNMI under a nonresident worker’s permit status. Flores said the permit expired on March 5, 2005.

Court documents show that on Nov. 5, 2004, the AGO charged Castillo with assault and battery for beating his wife. Eleven days later, the government filed another information charging the defendant with disturbing the peace, assault, two counts of assault and battery, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and child abuse.

The defendant and his lawyer, acting Chief Public Defender Elisa Long, signed a plea agreement with the government represented by assistant attorney general John Eaton.

Castillo pleaded guilty to assault and battery in the second case. The first case was dismissed pursuant to the plea agreement.

Following the agreement, Superior Court Associate Judge Juan T. Lizama sentenced the defendant to one year in jail, all suspended except for the time he had already served in prison from Oct. 29, 2004, to Dec. 28, 2005.

The factual basis of the agreement stated that on Oct. 19, 2004 the defendant threw a backpack at the victim. When police interviewed the victim, she was reportedly shaking and crying in fear. She said Castillo had threatened her several times that he would kill her if she leaves him for another man.

Immigration then filed a deportation case against Castillo, but he could not be located anymore on Saipan.

In November 2004, Wiseman turned down Castillo’s request that his bail be modified from $5,000 cash to $500 in connection with the criminal case. Wiseman also denied Castillo’s request to release him to a third party custodian.

The judge cited the seriousness of the charges as well as the accusation that the defendant used to be a member of the Abu Sayyaf.

During a hearing on Oct. 27, 2004 Castillo appeared in the courtroom of Judge Kenneth Govendo for a temporary restraining order hearing requested by his wife.

After the wife testified, Govendo instructed her to step down from the witness stand. The judge then called Castillo to the witness stand.

While the woman was walking toward the table and Castillo was walking toward the witness stand, the defendant allegedly elbowed her on the arm. The defendant also allegedly uttered profanities in Filipino at the victim.

According to court papers, Castillo had been a member of the special forces in the Philippine military for three years and that he is also a former member of Abu Sayyaf.

Castillo has been reportedly staying on the island for more than 10 years already. He and the victim have children.

Castillo used to own a vegetable store in Garapan that got burned down a couple of years ago, sources said.

Abu Sayyaf is a terrorist militant Islamic group operating in the southern part of the Philippines. The group was responsible for the spate of bombings, assassinations and kidnappings of foreigners, priests, businessmen, teachers and even ordinary citizens.

They are notorious for beheading their captives when the families refuse to give ransom money, according to news reports.

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