Canada PM condemns 'cold-blooded murder' of Philippines hostage

Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:54pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins and Manuel Mogato

KANANASKIS, Alberta/MANILA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned on Monday the execution of a Canadian hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines, calling it "an act of cold-blooded murder."

John Ridsdel, 68, a former mining executive, was captured by Islamist militants along with three other people in September 2015 while on vacation on a Philippine island.

The Philippine army said a severed head was found on a remote island on Monday, five hours after the expiry of a ransom deadline set by militants who had threatened to execute one of four captives.

"Canada condemns without reservation the brutality of the hostage-takers and this unnecessary death. This was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage," Trudeau told reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting.

"The government of Canada is committed to working with the government of the Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for this heinous act."

Trudeau declined to respond when asked whether the Canadian government had tried to negotiate with the captors or pay a ransom, or whether it was trying to secure the release of the other Canadian being held, Robert Hall.

"Obviously there was talk of money involved, but not by the government of Canada or by the government of Norway, but certainly by the families attempting to do what they could to free the four," said Bob Rae, a former federal politician and longtime Ridsdel friend.

"But it’s been an awful process, just horrendous," he told Canadian television.   Continued...