A BASILAN provincial court has sentenced three Abu Sayyaf bandits to life imprisonment for the killing of Marine troops in the province.

The Basilan Regional Trial Court Branch 1, in its decision handed down Thursday, acquitted a fourth accused from the same charges.

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The accused were, however, sentenced in absentia as all of them are still at large. They are among the 31 inmates who have escaped on December 13, 2009 from the provincial jail of Basilan.

Sentenced in absentia of murder charges involving the killing of 14 Marine troops were Amil Mandicung, Salim Masud and Jemar Tarang.

Aramil Sulayman, who is also among those who escaped from Basilan provincial jail last December 13, 2009, was acquitted of charges.

The 14 Marine troops were killed in an ambush staged by the Abu Sayyaf bandits in the town of Albarka, Basilan province.

Of the 14 slain soldiers, 10 of them were beheaded by the bandits.

The troops, who were searching at that time for kidnapped Italian priest Fr. Gian Carlo Bossi, were returning back to their headquarters when killed in an ambush.

Bossi, a member of the Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere, was kidnapped on June 10, 2007 from a coastal village in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

The kidnappers freed Bossi on July 19 of the same year in the hinterlands of Lanao del Nore province.