Witness on Korean’s slay ordered released

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A Pampanga Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Tuesday ordered the release of SPO4 Roy Villegas, one of the accused in the kidnap-slay of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo, from police custody after he gave his testimony as state witness.

In a two-page decision dated 30 January penned by Judge Irin Zenaida Buan of the Angeles City RTC Branch 56, it stated the testimony of Villegas on the case has already concluded warranting the approval of his petition and granted his motion to be released from the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) restrictive custody.

“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 state witness,” the ruling said.

The same court in January 2018 dismissed the charge against Villegas saying that the cop’s testimony could qualify as direct evidence in the case, thus turning him into a state witness.

To recall, Villegas identified SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel as the one who strangled Jee to death after talking to a “Sir Dumlao,” who later turned out to be Superintendent Rafael Dumlao III, former official of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) and one of the respondents in the case.

Villegas’s request was earlier opposed by Sta. Isabel and co-accused Jerry Omlang, citing their pending petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA) which was denied by Judge Buan citing the lack of legal basis.

“The amendments in Section 7, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court clearly mandates that the pendency of a petition for certiorari will not interrupt the course of the main case unless a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction is issued by the appellate court,” said the decision.

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