Hong Kong hostage relatives sue Philippine government

HONG KONG (AFP) - Hong Kong survivors of a Manila hostage crisis and families of those killed sued the Philippine government on Thursday to demand an apology and compensation, a day before the tragedy's third anniversary.

The group took the case to a local court after accusing Manila of failing to respond to their demands over the 2010 drama, which cost the lives of eight tourists following a bungled rescue operation.

"Until now, there is no positive response to our demands regarding the tragedy," said Mr Tse Chi Hang, brother of tour guide Masa Tse.

The guide was among those killed when a sacked Philippine policeman seized a bus packed with tourists in a desperate bid to be reinstated in his job.

"It is painful, when you see there is no progress at all, and there is no sign from the Philippine government on taking responsibility," Mr Tse told AFP.

The Philippine government and then-Manila mayor Alfredo Lim are among nine parties being sued, Mr Tse said, adding that they are also seeking "reasonable" compensation.

Philippine Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was quoted as saying last year that the government was not bound by the rulings of Hong Kong courts.

After lengthy negotiations, police mounted an assault on the bus. The hostage-taker and eight tourists were killed and seven others were wounded in an incident broadcast live on television around the world.

The apparent incompetence of the police who mounted the assault outraged the residents of Hong Kong, a city with low low crime rates. Local politicians accused the Hong Kong government and Beijing of failing to press the demands of the victims.

The Hong Kong government has maintained a warning against travel to the Philippines following the incident.

Mr Joseph Estrada, a former Philippine president and the current mayor of Manila, apologised this week for the tragedy but this was rejected by relatives of victims and survivors.

Current President Benigno Aquino has expressed regret and admitted the crisis should have been handled better, but refused to apologise when the victims' families travelled to the scene of the incident in Manila in 2011.

However Mr Aquino apologised in May for the killing by his country's coastguard of a Taiwanese fisherman.

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