By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star
Posted at 05/25/2015 9:25 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Amnesty International said the verdict on the appeal of a Filipino serving a life sentence for espionage in Qatar would be announced on May 31.
Amnesty International over the weekend said Ronaldo Lopez Ulep is serving a life sentence after he had “confessed” under torture.
The organization said Ulep’s appeal was filed on May 26, 2014 and five sessions have taken place, some of which lasted for only 15 minutes and no translator was provided.
The Appeal Court is expected to issue its verdict on May 31.
Ulep, a former civilian employee of the Qatar Air Force was arrested by officers from the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in front of his three children at his house in Doha on April 7, 2010.
He was convicted of spying by the Court of First Instance in Doha on April 30, 2014 and sentenced to life in prison for allegedly selling information about his employer.
Amnesty International said Ulep was held incommunicado for about a month before his family was told of his detention.
“During the first eight months of his detention, he was tortured and ill treated,” Amnesty International said.
According to sources close to the case, the organization said that during two interrogation sessions, Ulep was allegedly burned with cigarettes on his back and legs, stripped naked and forced to crawl on the floor until his knees bled, punched and slapped.
He was allegedly forced to sign a confession written in Arabic, which he could not read, but was later presented in court.
Amnesty International said Ulep was also held for three to four days with his hands bound behind his back and was repeatedly deprived of sleep by guards who taunted him by saying his family was dead.
He spent four years in solitary confinement at the State Security Bureau in Doha.
Ulep was moved to the Central Prison after he was sentenced and has not been allowed contact with family despite asking permission at least twice.
“According to court documents, at his trial Ulep told the court that his ‘confessions’ had been extracted through torture and other ill-treatment. However the Court of First Instance rejected this, citing lack of evidence to support his allegations,” Amnesty International said.
According to Amnesty International, two other Filipinos were involved in the same trial as Ulep.
They were arrested in March and April 2010 respectively and were allegedly held in solitary confinement in the State Security Bureau until their trial.
“Both have alleged that confessions presented in court were extracted through torture,” Amnesty International said.
One of the men was sentenced to life imprisonment and the other was sentenced to death. The verdicts on their appeals are expected the same day as Ulep’s.
Amnesty International has twice written to the Qatari authorities to raise the case in September 2014 and in January 2015, but has received no response.
The organization has also raised the case with the Philippines embassy in Qatar.
In recent years, Amnesty International has received reports of torture or other ill treatment being used to force detainees to “confess” or provide information. Most reported incidents occur before detainees are charged or tried, particularly during periods of incommunicado by state security officials.