Tuesday, January 18, 2005 

Spanish lawyers take the......... cudgels for convict in.....
Chiong rape-murder

By Roy Pelovello

      Three Bar associations in Spain have asked the Philippine Supreme Court for permission to intervene in the case of convict Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga and save him from death by lethal injection.

      Paco an six others were each meted out two life sentences for the kidnapping and murder of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong on July 16, 1997 in Cebu. On February 3, 2004, the Supreme Court raised the penalty to death.

      Yesterday, Larraņaga's counsels Felicitas Aquino Arroyo and Sandra Marie Olaso Coronel urged the high court to admit the amicus curiae briefs from the Barcelona Bar Associations (BBA), Basque Bar Council (BBC) and Bar Association of Madrid .

      The three organizations anchored their interest in the case on the ground that Larraņaga is a "Spanish citizen with origins in the Basque country and therefore a member of the European Union."

      The Spanish consul has informed Larraņaga that the Spanish lawyers group had tried but failed to submit the documents to the SC via diplomatic channels.

      "While the submission of unsolicited briefs may well be of first impression in Philippine jurisprudence, this is not so with the United States Supreme Court, the Rules of Procedure of which are the basis the Philippine's own Rules of Court," Larraņaga's lawyers said. 

      In a two-page brief, received by the Consulate of Spain in Manila on Dec. 29, 2004, the Barcelona Bar Association expressed it's "deep concern at the sentencing to death of a Spanish citizen."

     The Barcelona Bar Association said it's concern is "not only on account of the profound conviction that the death penalty is not a civilized response to crime, but also because in view of the documentation provided, irreparable harm could mmmm

be caused."      

      Likewise, the BBA said that the execution of a Spanish citizen would be in breach of the violation of the principle of reciprocity in international law, noting that if a Filipino citizen is found guilty in Spain, no Spanish court would have imposed the death penalty, nor would have allowed him extradited to any country imposing capital punishment.

      For its part, BBC, in a brief also received last Dec. 29 by the Spanish consulate in Manila, said the imposition of the death penalty on Larraņaga infringes on the "minimum standards" set by the European Union policy on death penalty on June 3, 1998.

      The BBC noted hat the EU policy was based on the resolution of the United National Human Rights Commission of April 25, 2002.

      The Philippines, as a member of the United Nations, has been loyal and respectful at implementing section 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, however, in the case of Francisco Juan Larraņaga, his prosecution has not complied with international rules," the BBC said.

      The Basque lawyers' group noted that over 35 witnesses have testified under oath that Larraņaga was not at the place of the crime on July 17, 1997 but was in Quezon City, and that the judge who tried the case did not allow the statement of several impartial witnesses as well as other documentary evidence for Larraņaga's defense.

      Larraņaga appealed; the Supreme Court has yet to rule on his appeal.

      Cebu Regional Trial Court Branch 7 Judge Martin Ocampo (deceased) anchored his conviction of Larraņaga and six others on the testimony of Davidson Rusia, who admitted raping 
Jacqueline.

      Rusia claimed Paco was with him on the night of July 16, 1997. There are also four witnesses of the prosecution who claimed seeing Larraņaga in Cebu City on that night.

      Larraņaga claimed he does not know Rusia. The defense also noted that Rusia only surfaced as a state witness 10 months after the crime happened.

NOTE:   THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
                           DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.                                 

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