The body of a 24-year-old student languished in a Manila morgue for more than three months before the family of the deceased was notified.

"/> The body of a 24-year-old student languished in a Manila morgue for more than three months before the family of the deceased was notified.

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PHILIPPINES

Student’s body ‘forgotten’ in Manila morgue

The body of a 24-year-old student languished in a Manila morgue for more than three months before the family of the deceased was notified.

The parents of Alexander Reich, together with a team of international investigators, searched desperately for the 24-year-old man for more than three months, but he had died the same day he disappeared.

Filipino media have revealed that the body was discovered a few hours after Reich was shot in the head in Antipolo City, 25 kilometres from the capital Manila.

Local residents reported hearing gunshot and the sound of a vehicle leaving the area. When the police arrived at the scene, they found the body in a vacant lot, Inquirer News reports. 

Reich’s body was brought to the local morgue where it remained unidentified and forgotten for more than three months. It was not until Monday afternoon that the city’s deputy police chief informed the unit in charge of the investigation that they had located the victim’s body.

According to Inquirer News, the Antipolo police should have reported the body’s discovery to the National Capital Region Police Office, particularly since it involved a foreign national.

“It’s standard procedure,” said Ding Pascu, the police officer who led a search that involved Filipino, Swiss and American investigators.

The young man’s family revealed on Monday that the 24-year-old student was murdered on September 22nd, the day he disappeared. His parents released the tragic news on a Facebook page they had created to raise funds for the search, without giving additional information.

Zurich cantonal police told newspaper 20 Minutes on Monday evening that they had no further details on the circumstances surrounding Reich’s murder.

The family had initially remained silent, letting investigators do their job. However, on December 14th, the young man’s father, Manuel Reich, travelled to the Philippines and offered a reward of 4,250 francs ($4,540) to anybody who could provide information about his son’s whereabouts.

Reich had travelled to the Philippines in August to take a language course. The 24-year-old student from Brüttisellen, in canton Zurich, was regularly in touch with his family and friends in Switzerland.

The last piece of information came in the form of a text message he sent at 1am on September 22nd to a friend in Manila. “I am in a white car with friends — coming soon,” he wrote. But he never showed up.

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KIDNAP

Philippines searches swamps for kidnapped Europeans

Philippine troops were scouring mangroves on remote southern islands on Monday as the search for two kidnapped Europeans intensified, security officials said.

Hundreds of naval troops and Marines have been deployed to search for Swiss Lorenzo Vinciguerra, 47, and Dutchman Ewold Horn, 52, in the remote Tawi Tawi archipelago, said Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre.

The pair were snatched by an unknown group of gunmen on Wednesday while on an expedition to photograph rare hornbills in the wild, but government forces have since found no sign of the pair.

“Our search efforts have intensified. There is no reason for us to believe that they have slipped past the naval blockade (around Tawi Tawi),” said Cenabre, deputy commander of the local Navy.

The authorities have not been able to pinpoint who carried out the abduction and where the captives are being held. There are vast seas around Tawi Tawi, which consists of more than 300 small islands bordering Malaysia.

“We do not know who they are what their demands are,” provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Rodelio Jocson told AFP.

“The group has not contacted us and we are still searching in the area.

“They (the kidnappers) have not said anything and we have not identified the group,” said Major General Noel Coballes, the regional military chief.

The southern Philippines has long been plagued by groups of outlaws who kidnap people to hold for huge ransoms.

The most feared of these is the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf which has been tied to the worst terror attacks in Philippine history.

In previous cases, armed gangs have turned their captives over to Abu Sayyaf, who have been known to behead their captives.

But Abu Sayyaf is not widely active in Tawi Tawi, raising hopes that the hostages may still be in the hands of ordinary criminals.

Abu Sayyaf, founded with seed money from Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, are based largely in the islands of Jolo and Basilan to the northeast of Tawi Tawi.

US troops have been based in the southern Philippines for a decade to help train local troops in hunting down members of the group.

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