Wednesday, February 11, 2004  

Retrial like killing me 3.. times over: Chiong

      THE mother of the Chiong sisters denounced a businessman and civic leader's call for the Supreme Court (SC) to retry the rape-slay cases filed against Juan Francisco Larraņaga, one of the six men the SC sent to death row.

      "I don't want to go through what I went through during the trial again. The hard reality they face now, the reality that their son is guilty, is just as hard as the reality I had to face when my daughters were kidnapped, raped and killed. The things we have to deal with are not always easy, Thelma Chiong said in Cebuano.

      In an interview with Sun.Star, Chiong said she anticipates the families of the accused---Larraņaga, Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Caņo, Arnel Balansag, and brothers James Andrew and James Anthony---to file their motions for reconsideration before the High Tribunal.

      She said she has no problem with it because it is still part of the appeals process. Similarly, review is automatic for cases where the imposed sentence is the death penalty. 

      Before, she said, a retrial, even if only for Larraņaga, will be too much to bear because it would mean a rehearing of all the testimonies and evidence presented.

     However, a retrial of the Chiong case will prove to be easier said than done because the aggrieved party would have to look for new evidence and present it before the High Tribunal.

     Lawyer Rowena Guanzon, a non-government organization lawyer, said the petitioner would then have to convince the SC that their new evidence is big enough to affect the outcome of the case, if retried. Only then can the retrial proceed. 

     The only other way to get the High Court to call for a retrial is for Larraņaga to say that incompetent counsels represented him during the trial and the appeals process.

     Guanzon, former Cadiz City mayor now active in the party-list group Abanse Pinay, said Larraņaga's camp would face credibility problems if they take this course, considering the caliber of their lawyer while his appeal was pending.

     Businessman Miguel Juan del Gallego, whose daughters testified in favor of Larraņaga when Regional Trial Court Judge Martin Ocampo heard the case, is spearheading the calls for a retrial.

     His daughters had issued statements that they were with Paco in Manila the night Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were abducted in July 1997. they even submitted to the court photos to prove this. KNR


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