Trudeau condemns 'senseless' murder of Canadian held hostage in Philippines
Published Monday, June 13, 2016 7:37AM EDT Last Updated Monday, June 13, 2016 2:03PM EDT
A Canadian held hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines is believed to have been executed by his captors.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is working with authorities in the Philippines to confirm reports that Robert Hall of Calgary was killed.
"We have every reason to believe the reports are unfortunately true," Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa on Monday.
The al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group had warned it would kill Hall by Monday, if it didn't receive a ransom of $8 million.
Trudeau said Canada holds Abu Sayyaf "fully responsible for this cold blooded and senseless murder."
He expressed his condolences to the Hall family, and reiterated Canada's policy of not paying ransoms to terrorist groups.
"We will not turn the maple leaf worn with pride by over three million Canadians abroad into targets," he said.
Hall, along with Canadian hostage John Ridsdel, a Norwegian man and a Filipino woman were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf from an upscale resort last September.
Ridsdel, 68, was beheaded in April after a large ransom demand from his captors was not met.
Paying terrorists fuels more violence: Trudeau
Trudeau said Monday that the government is working with authorities in the Philippines to "pursue those responsible for the heinous acts."
He noted that during the recent G7 meeting in Japan, world leaders "reiterated that terrorist hostage takings only fuel more violence and instability."
Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion said meeting the kidnappers’ ransom demand would have provided the militant group with funding to perpetuate more attacks, and potentially further endanger Canadians.
"At the very moment that you send a signal that…to keep Canadian hostages will pay off, then Canadians will be danger all over the world," Dion told reporters in Ottawa on Monday. "We should send the other signal – don't bother to take Canadian hostages, you will not make money with it."
Dion said the Canadian government did everything in its power to help the hostages, but, citing concern for the safety of two other hostages, he said he could not give any details.
Trudeau said Hall's death and the "appalling" attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, "serve as devastating reminders that the vicious acts of hatred and violence cannot be tolerated in any form."
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley offered her condolences to Hall's family and said Albertans are praying for the safety of the remaining two hostages.
“Albertans everywhere condemn this murder of one of our own, a free citizen of a country and province long-known to stand for, and staunchly defend, the cause of peace," Notley said in a statement.
The Abu Sayyaf militants released new footage of the remaining hostages in late May.
In the video, Hall pleaded with the Philippine government to work on behalf of the hostages, and said the Canadian government has "abandoned" him.
Villagers found Ridsdel's body by a dry creek in a mountain near Talipao town in Sulu province.
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the Sulu Archipelago and through the southern Sulu Sea due to the threat of piracy and kidnappings in the area.
Abu Sayyaf, a violent militant group seeking to establish an Islamic state in the Philippines, has been listed as a terrorist group by Canada.