24th March 2005

Submission to the United Nations in the case of Francisco Larrañaga:

Francisco Larrañaga - Summary

Dual nationality Spanish citizen, Francisco Larrañaga,currently sits on death row in The Phillipines.

On 10th May 2004 the President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, addressed a letter to the President of the Philippines, Mrs Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, concerning the situation of Mr Francisco Juan Larranaga, a Spanish citizen with dual Filipino nationality, who has been sitting on death row in the Philippines since February 2004.

In his letter President Cox asked for a review of the trial on grounds of procedural irregularities in the trial proceedings. Successive Presidents of the European Union have also taken up the case. No response was ever received from President Arroyo. In the light of the very grave concerns over breaches of international fair trial laws and bearing in mind the abhorrence of the death penalty by the great international institutions, notably the United Nations, and considering that the death penalty removes human dignity and the progressive development of human rights, we request vigorous representation to the government of the Phillipines, not only because of the atrocity of said death penalty, but because of the manifestly unfair trial proceedings during which the accused was given little or no opportunity to defend himself.


Case Summary

In May 1999 Mr Larrañaga (Paco), 26, was found “Guilty Beyond Reasonable Doubt” of two crimes of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention of two sisters in 1997 and was sentenced two life sentences (Reclusiones Perpetua). He was further ordered to indemnify the heirs of the two alleged victims to the amount of P200,000.00 in actual damages and P5,000,000.00 by way of moral and exemplary damages. The two sisters, Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were alleged to have been gang-raped and thrown over a ravine to their deaths. Only one body was found.

The trial Court admitted to its misgivings about the identity of the corpse, but it shunned forensic evidence to clarify any doubts, and further stated that the identity of the single corpse would not have any bearing on the case. It is extraordinary that the Court did not believe it necessary to identify the body in order to ascertain whether the only prosecution witness was telling the truth and also to provide the court with a corpus delicti.

At the time of the alleged crimes Paco states that he was 300 kilometres away sitting exams and attending class. At least 35 witnesses testify to this fact. Witnesses range across college administrators, professors, fellow students, security guards. Witness statements are backed up by examination papers, photographs, passenger lists of various airline companies, restaurant bills and various security checks. The court refused to hear these witnesses.

The Prosecution rested on the statement of the co-accused, Mr Rusia, a drug-addict and convicted criminal who received immunity in return for his testimony. It appears that the defence team were only allowed a 30-minute cross-examination during the hearing which lasted “various days”. During this brief cross-examination the witness fainted. The judge proceeded to respond to the cross-examination on Rusia’s behalf.

Paco’s personally appointed lawyer was sentenced to imprisonment by the court of first instance; the court replaced him with the same lawyer who had earlier represented Mr Rusia.

The aforementioned are just some of the many breaches of procedure during the extended investigation and trial. Paco’s initial sentence of two life sentences, was inexplicably raised by the Supreme Court in February 2004 to the death penalty. This decision is now under consideration by the same Supreme Court.

Note : The Supreme Court of The Philippines made an enbanc (12-0) decision on 4th Feb 2004 to condemn Francisco Larrañaga to death by lethal injection. In such cases, the Supreme Court must offer an opportunity to the defendant to make a last appeal, after which the decision is final. An appeal was filed on March 4, 2004. The Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo interposed his objection on 22nd July 2004. The defence response, together with the FTA Amicus Curiae was submitted in February 2005.

The Supreme Court’s decision is awaited. There is still time to act.

The Supreme Court has only once before reversed a decision.

The Objective : This case should be thrown out on the grounds of grave violations of fundamental law and Mr Larrañaga released forthwith.

 

NOTE: The Fair Trials Abroad Trust [FTAT] 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 of justice.

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

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