F. Larrañaga, The Philippines
Francisco Juan Larrañaga
was sentenced at the age of 19 to two consecutive life sentences. He was
initially convicted in May 1999 of the kidnap and false imprisonment of
two sisters, Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong on July 16, 1997. In February
2004 the Supreme Court ordered that he be sentenced to death, with rape
and homicide added to his alleged crimes. Added to the capital punishment,
was the order to indemnify the victim's heirs to the sum of P100,000 civil
indemnity, P25,000 as temperate damages, P150,000 as moral damages and
P100,000 as exemplary damages. Mr Larrañaga known as Paco, now sits on
death row, waiting.
It was alleged that Paco and 7 other young men kidnapped the two sisters
and raped them on the Phillipine island of Cebú where they
later threw one of the bodies into a ravine.
During his trial in the Cebu Regional Trial Court, defense lawyers sought
to present evidence from 35 different witnesses that on the evening of the
crime, Paco was at a party with friends at the R&R Restaurant along
Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City, and stayed there until early morning the
following day. After the party, Paco returned to his Quezon City
condominium at 2:45 a.m. the following day, as shown by the security
guard's logbook. Chef Rowena Bautista, a teacher at the CCA, attested in
court that she had seen Paco with a classmate in school at about 6:30 p.m.
on July 16. He attended his second round of midterm exams on July 17
commencing at 8 a.m. These were scheduled exams, for which he has records
to prove he took and passed. Paco did not leave for Cebu until late
afternoon of July 17, 1997. Airline and airport personnel came to court
with their respective flight manifests, showing that Paco did not take any
flight on July 16, 1997 nor was on board any chartered aircraft that
landed in or departed from Cebu during the relevant dates, until the 5
p.m. PAL flight on July 17, 1997 from Manila to Cebu.
However, Judge Martin Ocampo disregarded these' testimonies as well as
other documentary pieces of evidence supporting Paco's claim.
Only one body was ever found. When Dennis Chiong, brother of the two
sisters, went to the funeral parlour to identify the body he said he
didn't think it could be his sister as (the corpse has long hair). There
was also a marked difference in height. Nevertheless, no formal
identification was made by those who knew the Chiong sisters and the court
ruled out requests for DNA tests. Instead, Judge Ocampo placed Mr Larrañaga's
lawyer in jail for contempt, and assigned a new lawyer from the Cebu City
Public Attorney's Office to represent him.
The accusation against Larrañaga rested almost entirely on the testimony
of one of the accused, turned witness for the Prosecution in exchange for
total immunity. Cross-examination of this witness was kept to a mere
half-hour, but he fainted under the strain. The judge proceeded to respond
to questions on his behalf.
FTA is appealing for a re-trial or dismissal on the basis of unsafe
conviction. We have called upon the Spanish government, the President of
the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament who
have all protested vigorously at the appalling justice procedures in this
case. All protestations have been ignored by the Supreme Court and the
Philippine Ministry of Justice. A key part of our activities has been the
submission of an Amicus Curiae presenting legal argument and calling for a
re-trial, as summarised below.
Grounds of concern regarding fair trial procedures:
If Paco Larrañaga is executed without being given a fair trial, he will
be arbitrarily deprived of his life contrary to article 6(1) of the
• Paco Larrañaga was prohibited from testifying at his trial in
violation of articles 14(1), 14(3)(d) and (e) of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Although the right to testify is
not explicitly stated in article 14 it is an implied right. The accused
has the right to present his case in the best way available, and this
means in practice the right of an accused to counter the prosecution
allegations and provide evidence of his own innocence. In the absence of
any valid justification from the Supreme Court, exclusion of this kind of
exculpatory evidence deprived Paco Larrañagaof the basic right to have
the prosecutor's case tested by available contrary evidence.
• Several defence witnesses of crucial importance to the defence of
alibi were prevented from giving evidence. The trial court thereby
violated article 14(3)(e) of the Covenant by failing to allow Paco Larrañaga
the same opportunity to compel the attendance of witnesses and to examine
witnesses as was available to the prosecution.
• Defence counsel's right to examine the chief prosecution witnesses was
unfairly restricted in violation of article 14(3)(e) and the principle of
equality of arms enshrined in article 14(1) of the Covenant. The defendant
is entitled to test by questioning witnesses who testify against him.
• Paco was not given adequate counsel at all stages of his trial in
violation of paragraph 5 of the UN Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of
the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty and articles 14(3)(b)and (d)of
the Covenant. The court appointed counsel from the Public Attorney's
Office had less than one day to prepare the defence. A person facing
charges punishable by death should be provided with adequate assistance of
counsel at every stage of the proceedings; this is above and beyond the
protection afforded in non-capital cases. This failure to provide adequate
assistance of counsel at all stages of the trial process infringed Paco's
right to a fair trial.
• The prosecution failed to prove Paco Larrañaga' s guilt based upon
clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative
explanation of the facts contrary to paragraph 4 of the Safeguards and the
right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty enshrined in article
14(2) of the Covenant by consequence of the following incidents:
(a) The prosecution evidence centred on the testimony of one of the
accused, Sr Rusia, who not only testified against Paco Larrañaga as a
result of police brutality and in violation of Article 15 of the
Convention, but who also gave evidence against Paco in return for his own
release and acquittal.
(b) Paco Larrañaga' s main defence was an alibi. It was wrong in law for
the onus to have been put on him to prove that it was physically
impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime. The burden of
proof is on the prosecution to prove the offences charged beyond a
• Francisco Juan Larrañaga's right to be tried by an independent and
impartial tribunal according to article 14(1) of the Covenant was
violated. Pressure was exerted on the Francisco Juan Larrañaga case by
powerful social groups and he was the subject of an unprecedented number
of media reports that condemned him even before his trial started. There
was also a 100,000 Peso reward for prosecution information and testimony.
what you can do to support F. Larrañaga:
Signature Campaign: Please add your signature to support Paco in his fight
for justice by going to www.PacoLarranaga.com
Write to Paco, your letters will give him encouragement and huge support
during this long and agonising wait.
Francisco Juan Larrañaga, Dorm 1d, Maximum Security Compound, New Bilibid
Prison, Muntinlupa City, The Philippines.
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services. Please send a donation to enable us to continue to work for F.
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you very much for your support!
The Fair Trials Abroad Trust [FTA]
seeks to help citizens from the European Union accused of a crime in a
country other than their own, to assert their rights to due administration