Marijoy's...... body not required, says
PROVING that the body recovered from the foot of the Tan-awan Cliff in Carcar on June 18, 1997 did not belong to Marijoy Chiong is not important to convict the accused in the Chiong case to a life term or death for kidnapping with serious illegal detention.
Regional Trial Court judge Martin A. Ocampo said this to the panel of prosecutors, lawyers for the defense and the group of forensic experts hired by the families of accused Francisco Juan Larrañaga and Josman Aznar to examine the evidence submitted by the prosecution panel to prove their case.
Ocampo said the identification of the corpse recovered at the Tan-awan Cliff, on whether it belonged to Marijoy, is not an element of the body of the crime in kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
"Identification of the body is immaterial as far as corpus delicti is concerned," Ocampo added.
The judge cited a portion of the Heinous Crimes Law which says that any private person may be sentenced to life imprisonment or death for kidnapping and detaining another persons for more than three days.
University of the Philippines anthropology professor Jerome Bailen, accompanied by his team experts and forensic pathologist Racquel Fortun yesterday examined and took photographs of the exhibits submitted by the prosecution.
Together with Bailen were forensic chemist professor Paz Avis, material evidence analyst Aldolfo Crimares, forensic dentist Anatacio Rosete, forensic pathologist Dr. Benito Molino and forensic photographer Victor Obesa.
It took Fortun, Bailen and his team three hours to examine the evidence, although the first half hour of it was spent on legal discussions between the prosecution and defense lawyers on how the examinations would be done.
Bailen, in an interview with media, admitted that the time given to them, as well as the atmosphere at the courtroom, was not the most ideal situation for them to conduct their examinations.
At the same time Bailen expressed that he found assistant city prosecutor Teresita A. Galanida "a little bit inane and a little bit irritating."
Bailen said Galanida was imposing on them what they should do.
In keeping with the order of Ocampo on the conduct of the examination of the evidence, Galanida not only kept a close watch over the handling of the evidence, but also had each and every move of the experts annotated in the transcript of stenographic notes.
Asked whether his team was given enough leeway to conduct the examinations, Bailen admitted that he did not anticipate that the scientific examination would turn into a legal debate.
Lawyer Sisinio Andales, who represents Aznar, whose family, in turn, hired the services of Bailen and his team, said he expects the results of the examinations sometime next week.
Andales said they may use the results of the examination to bolster their defense.
Although Ocampo told the defense lawyers not to give so much importance on the killing of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, including identifying the body, Andales expressed a contrary belief.
Andales said if they can prove that the body found at Tan-awan did not belong to Marijoy, then they can prove that state witness Davidson Valiente Rusia also lied when he testified that Marijoy was thrown from the cliff.
Ocampo repeatedly said even if the Chiong sisters were not raped, even if they were not killed, the accused may still be meted the capital punishment for kidnapping the sisters and keeping them more than three days.
The judge said there were both direct and circumstantial evidence to prove that the sisters were forcibly taken from the Ayala Center Cebu on July 16, 1997.
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