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Court orders release of state witness in Korean slay case

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By Jeffrey Damicog

Now that he has testified, an Angeles City court has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to release from its custody a policeman who has become a state witness after being discharged as an accused in the slay case of Korean Jee Ick Joo.

Judge Irin Zenaida Buan of the Angeles City Regional Trial Court (RTC) 56 has issued an order which granted the motion of SPO4 Roy Villegas that he be released from restrictive custody of the PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG).

(Flickr / MANILA BULLETIN)

(Flickr / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Based on the proceedings held in these cases, it appears that witness Villegas already finished his testimony thus it can be concluded that he already fulfilled his duty as a state witness,” stated the court order, a copy of which was submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“With the completion of the testimony of state witness Villegas, there is no more valid reason to recall his discharges thus, the effects of his discharge should be given effect,” it added.

On January 2018, Judge Irineo Pangilinan Jr. of Angeles City RTC Branch 58 granted the motion of the DOJ to discharge Villegas as a state witness after being previously named as one of the accused in the case.

Pangilinan eventually inhibited himself handling the case which was transferred to Buan.

Under the case, Supt. Rafael Dumlao, SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, retired policeman Gerardo “Ding” Santiago, and Jerry Omlang have been accused of kidnapping for ransom with homicide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and carnapping.

The case stemmed from the kidnapping of Jee who was taken along with his maid Marisa Morquicho on October 18, 2016 from his home in Friendship Plaza Subdivision, Angeles City under the pretext that police were conducting anti-illegal drugs operations under “Oplan Tokhang.”

The Korean was brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City where he was killed the same day. Morquicho was eventually released.

Even though the Korean was killed, the suspects still contacted Jee’s wife, Kyungjin Choi, on October 30, 2016 and demanded ransom for his release.

After a series of negotiations, Choi delivered P5 million in ransom money in front of the Central Town Mall in Porac, Pampanga on October 31, 2016.

On November 2, 2016, the suspects demanded an additional P4 million but Choi refused to pay the additional ransom after they failed to show proof of life.

 

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