Monday, March 8, 2004

One of 7 convicted in..... Cebu rape-slays seeks... retrial
By Cheloy Garafil

     One of the seven convicted killers of the Chiong rape-slay cases in Cebu has asked the Supreme Court for a retrial, saying he had been denied due process.

     In a 74-page motion for reconsideration, Francisco Juan "Paco" Larrañaga, through his lawyer William Chua, also asked the Court to allow him to orally argue his case en banc.

     "We submit that in the case at bar, a case described by this Court as Cebu's trial of the century, the criminal justice system was so influenced by the gruesome allegations, the attendant publicity, the inevitable politics, and so many other untold factors, that the judge molded the facts and law to reach a publicly acceptable, but unfair and unjust results," Larrañaga said. 

     Larrañaga, along with Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Caño, Ariel Balansag, James Anthony Uy, and James Andrew Uy were sentenced to two life terms by Cebu RTC Judge Martin Ocampo on May 5, 1995 (1999) for the kidnapping and rape of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in July 1997.

     On February 3, 2004, the Court affirmed the guilt of all the seven accused but raised their sentence to death.

     Andrew Uy, who was only 16 during the kidnapping and rape of the Chiong sisters, was spared from lethal injection as the Court upheld the two life terms imposed on him.

     Larrañaga asked the court to review the records of the case which would show that he was denied his right to stand as witness for himself.

     "He was not allowed to personally answer charges laid against him, He was not allowed to reply to any question material to his case," the petitioner said.

     Larrañaga also lamented the court's objection to the presentation of NBI Florencio Villarin as a witness for the defense.

     Larrañaga said had the court allowed Villarin to testify he would have destroy the prosecution's story with regard to his involvement.

     The petitioner said based on the NBI's investigation of the house where the rape purportedly occurred on July 16, 1997, it was established that it was then occupied by several boarders

     Also based on the investigation of Villarin, the prosecution's witness Sheila Singson never mentioned seeing Larrañaga talking to the Chiong sisters prior to their disappearance.

     Another witness, Davidson Rusia, was never allowed to be interviewed by the NBI and refused to undergo a lie detector test, according to Larrañaga.

     Mrs. Larrañaga is appealing for the acquittal of Paco. “I ask you to help me get justice for my son—don’t let them murder Paco. He is innocent.”

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