March 7, 2018 / 10:16 AM / in 4 months

Philippines frees Egyptian after flaws found in firearms case

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines has freed an Egyptian and his Philippine partner accused of links with pro-Islamic State militants, after prosecutors determined police might have fabricated the case.

Fehmi Lassoued and girlfriend Anabel Salipada were arrested last month in a apartment a few blocks away from the U.S. embassy in Manila. Police said guns, ammunition and bomb-making materials were found there.

Police presented the couple to the media on Feb. 19 and said a “thorough investigation” was underway to establish the extent of their militant ties.

A police spokesman on Wednesday declined to comment on the case dismissal until provided with a copy of the prosecutor’s decision.

The prosecutor said the gun and explosives possession charges were weak and possibly fabricated, and the gun submitted as evidence was a replica.

Lassoued and Salipada were not in a police photograph of the guns and explosives either, according to the prosecutor.

Pictures provided by police appeared to have been taken in a room that was not the one rented by Lassoued, the prosecutor said in a statement, supporting the Egyptian’s account that he was not present for the raid, and was brought to an unfamiliar room containing explosives.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty

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