Manila hostage-taker didn't mean to hurt captives at first, HK inquest told

02/14/2011 - Dismissed policeman Rolando Mendoza, who took a busload of tourists hostage in Manila in August last year, did not mean to hurt his hostages, at least during the first stages of the crisis.

This was how two witnesses in the incident described Mendoza when they testified in the first day of a Hong Kong inquest Monday.

In written statements, a tour guide and travel agency staff member said Mendoza initially had "shown no intention of hurting his captives, and only wanted to be reinstated in the police force," according to a report Monday night by Radio Television Hong Kong.

While the RTHK report did not name the witnesses, it said they were among the ones who managed to talk to Mendoza.

On Aug. 23 last year, Mendoza took a busload of tourists hostage and demanded that he be reinstated into the police force. Negotiations bogged down, resulting in the deaths of eight hostages, all tourists from Hong Kong, and Mendoza himself.

The standoff lasted for 11 hours.

Hong Kong's inquest into the hostage crisis opened Monday without knowing if any key witnesses from the Philippines will testify.

While 116 Filipinos have been asked to give evidence, none have so far responded, the RTHK report said.

The report said at least four survivors will be among the more than 30 witnesses from Hong Kong expected to provide evidence.

Twenty-five days have been set aside for the hearing, but the Coroner's officer, Senior Counsel Jat Sew-tong, said it would probably be completed sooner as fewer people will be giving evidence than originally thought. (GMA News)

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