The Philippine embassy "categorically and vigorously" denied yesterday that it ever received a cable authorizing the embassy to hire a Mafia figure to harm the family of an outspoken former Philippine diplomat.
The embassy's statement was prompted by allegations by Joselito C. Azurin, the dissident former diplomat now seeking U.S. asylum, Azurin filed a series of documents in U.S. District Court here Friday, including the text of an alleged cable authorizing the Philippine embassy to arrange with a "Mafia man" to injure Azurin's wife or youngest child if he refused to return voluntarily to the Philippines.
"No such cable or message has been received in the embassy," the Philippine embassy said in the statement issued by Mario C. Belisario, deputy chief of the mission. "The supposed cable is a complete fabrication of Azurin, and shows that in his desperation to avert extradition, he will resort to any means, even illegal ones."
Azurin, a former charge d'affaires of the Philippine embassy in Australia is currently fighting efforts by the Australian government to extradite him for prosecution on embezzlement charges. Azurin contends that the Australian government intends to deport him to the Philippines, where he would, he argues, be punished because of his criticism of the government of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Azurin has been imprisoned since April, mainly at the Arlington County jail. According to his lawyer, his wife and five children live in McLean. The alleged July 12 cable, filed in court last week, authorized the embassy to arrange to harm Azurin's family if they refused to return voluntarily to the Philippines.
In its statement yesterday, the Philippine embassy said, "The Philippine government and its foreign service establishments have never and will never resort to unlawful measures in the conduct of their operations."
James H. Lesar, one of Azurin's lawyers, responded yesterday by saying, "The Philippines ought to stop hiding behind its shield of (diplomatic) immunity and appear in court to make any such statement." Azurin's lawyers have previously contended that Azurin was denied the right to obtain court testimony from a key defense witness because the embassy invoked diplomatic immunity.
The State Department has had no comment on the case.