THREE police officers in the Philippines have been found guilty of murdering a teenage student they alleged was a drug dealer.
The trio shot dead Kian Loyd delos Santos during a raid in a Manila slum last year.
The judge rejected their claim that the 17-year-old fired back while resisting arrest.
The court sentenced Jeremias Pereda, Jerwin Cruz and Arnel Oares to up to 40 years in prison without parole, although they can appeal, and ordered them to pay damages to the victim’s family.
Their conviction is thought to be the first of its kind under president Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drugs that has left thousands of suspects dead, reportedly in clashes with police.
Mr Duterte has said he does not condone extrajudicial killings, but has repeatedly threatened drug suspects with death and has assured police he would back them up in ways human rights watchdogs say have encouraged law enforcers to act with impunity.
In his ruling, judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr said: ‘A shoot first, think later attitude can never be countenanced in a civilised society. Never has homicide or murder been a function of law enforcement. The public peace is never predicated on the cost of human life.’
Mr Duterte’s spokesman said the ruling showed ‘we will never tolerate unjustified police violence, brutality or killing’. Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros said the case proved killings were being committed by rogue officers and ‘this is a light in the darkness’.