Headless body of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then recovered in the Philippines

A headless body believed to be that of Malaysian Bernard Then (above) was found in Jolo Island in the Philippines.
A headless body believed to be that of Malaysian Bernard Then (above) was found in Jolo Island in the Philippines. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KOTA KINABALU (The Star/Asia News Network) - A headless body believed to be that of slain Malaysian hostage Bernard Then Ted Fen was recovered late on Monday in the Philippines' Jolo Island and has been sent to Zamboanga City for identification.

Southern Philippines anti-kidnapping activist Prof Octavio Dinampo said DNA tests would be done to ascertain if it was indeed that of Then.

"The Philippines authorities are coordinating with the Malaysian Embassy in Manila," he told The Star in a telephone interview.

He said the body had been taken to a mortuary in Zamboanga City where a head believed to be that of Then was recovered soon after his beheading at the hands of his Abu Sayyaf captors on Nov 11.

Dinampo said the leader of the Abu Sayyaf gunmen, Al Habsi Misaya, had even demanded a 10-million-peso (S$297,499) payment for information as to where Then's body had been buried but this was ignored by Philippine authorities.

Soldiers from the Philippines 501st Infantry Brigade recovered the body at Sitio Lungon-lungon at Parang in Jolo island at about 11pm on Monday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command spokesman Major Filemon Tan Jr. said the body was in an advanced state of decomposition.

Then was reportedly beheaded by his Abu Sayyaf captors at about 4pm on Nov 11.

The Philippines military said it was due to a breakdown in negotiations for his release.

Malaysian negotiators with the help of Filipino emissaries had worked round the clock to secure the release of the 39-year-old engineer and Ocean King seafood restaurant manager Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, since their kidnapping from Sandakan, Sabah, on May 15.

Thien was released on Nov 8 after an alleged ransom of about RM3 million (S$977,660) was paid.