not material to
This as Judge Martin Ocampo announced it is not necessary to establish that Marijoy Chiong was killed or raped.
The judge said that even if the defense will will be able to disprove the rape-slay charges, the accused can still be sentenced to death if there is direct and circumstantial evidence that they kidnapped Marijoy and Jacqueline.
The judge also pointed out that any kidnapping that lasts for more than three days calls for a death penalty.
Judge Ocampo made the statements as forensic experts in Manila, led by University of the Philippines anthropologist Jerome Bailen, reexamined the exhibits of the prosecution yesterday.
The exhibit included Marijoy's fingerprints, pictures, clothes and the diskette found near the crime scene in Carcar, which bore Josman Aznar's thumbprint.
By examining these, the defense wants to prove that Marijoy's body has not been found yet and thus establish prosecution witnesses were lying.
Marijoy and Jacqueline were kidnapped on July 16, 1997 and allegedly gang raped.
Days later, authorities recovered Marijoy's body from a deep ravine in Sitio Tan-awan, Guadalupe, Carcar, while Jacqueline remains missing.
But according to Ocampo, "Suppose it's true that they (the accused) kidnapped the sisters but their bodies are not seen yet, you mean to say the court will dismiss the (kidnapping) case. That can't be done.
"The prosecution doesn't have to prove the sisters were killed," he added.
The accused, Ocampo said, are charged with the continuing crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, therefore, making Marijoy's death, corpse and the exhibits immaterial.
Ocampo issued these statement when arguments between prosecution and defense lawyers flared during the examination of the exhibits yesterday.
The judge was inside his chamber when the reexamination was being done.
But he had to leave his chamber about six times to settle the disputes of the lawyers, who were apparently monitoring and criticizing even the tiniest of movements.
Ocampo said there is direct and circumstantial evidence that the sisters were taken against their will.
The corpse is immaterial a far as corpus delicti is concerned. The law says the death penalty may be imposed if the kidnapping took place more than three days.
The judge also called the attention of the defense lawyers to Section 8 of R.A. 7659, or the death penalty law.
Assuming that they are still alive, not raped and killed, the fact remains the crime lasted for more than three days, so death may be imposed. Itong pinagkakakuluhan natin ngayon, let's not put importance. Let's try to expedite this, huwag na kayo mag arque masyado." (Don't keep on arguing about this.)
However, Josman Aznar's lawyer, Sisinio Andales said the three Abiabi accused were acquitted for non-identification.
Also, during the examination, Prosecutor Teresita Galanida objected when Bailen's photographer tried to take a picture of her.
"We are not part of the exhibits," was Galanida's comment.
Even the presence of lawyer Ramon Teleron inside the courtroom caused Galanida to point out that she has nothing personal against her colleague, "but I'd like to make it on record that Atty. Teleron is beside Andales, conferring with each other."
Teleron, however, merely smiled but later confirmed that he's still assisting the defense in the case, although no longer appearing in Ocampo's sala.
Teleron used to represent accused Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga, but later withdrew from the case with the other defense lawyers , citing Ocampo as a bias judge.
During the examination, the debate also got heated when the defense asked for the original fingerprints of Marijoy.
But, according to Galanida, only the photocopies, not the original fingerprints were submitted in court.
"Don't ask for something which was not submitted in court," Prosecutor Ramon Jose Duyongco stressed.
The defense experts also wanted to examine all the evidence simultaneously, but prosecutors argued against it saying that Ocampo's order only allowed a "one-by-one" examination of the exhibits.
In an interview, Bailen and a forensic pathologist from the U.P. Manila admitted they could not immediately reveal their findings saying they have yet to review their notes.
Bailen was accompanied by seven other Manila-based experts, including forensic pathologists, a finger expert, evidence analyst, odontologist, a fingerprint photographer and a forensic chemist.
"The scientific technical examination should not have been made into a debate. This is not the ideal condition," he said, referring to the tense atmosphere in the courtroom.
Hearing of the case will resume on Monday with the presentation of the defense's 16th witness. CAM/OCD
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