Threatened and vilified, but Philippine lawyer says he wants ‘death squad president’ in court

Philippine attorney Jude Sabio says he hasn’t been home for a year, steers clear of public events and is forever looking over his shoulder after accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of crimes against humanity. Sabio, a stocky 51 year-old, says he lives in constant fear of reprisals after filing a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the wildly popular Duterte, whose administration Filipinos rate as the best performing since opinion polls started in the 1980s. A little-known lawyer until he filed the complaint last April, Sabio argues that the deaths of thousands of Filipinos in a brutal war on drugs is Duterte’s method of controlling crime, and that he used the tactic effectively during his 22 years as the mayor of Davao City in the south of the country. Duterte has repeatedly denied ordering extra-judicial killings while mayor or president and reiterated this month that he would “gladly” go before the ICC. Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had earlier said her office had started a preliminary examination into whether any crimes against humanity had been committed and if ICC had jurisdiction. The step is the first in a process that could take years to complete, if at all. Since it was set up in 2002, the ICC has received more than 12,000 complaints or communications, just nine of which have gone to trial. Sabio’s move is unpopular in a country where, despite the bloodshed, Duterte enjoys a cult-like status and has a loyal online following which hounds and harasses his… [Read full story]

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