MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 on Thursday (December 19) junked the 58th murder case in the decade-long trial of the Ampatuan Massacre involving the 58th victim photojournalist Reynaldo Momay.
Based on the 761-page ruling, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said that though Momay’s dentures were found, circumstance could not establish that he was there and that he was among the victims because his body was never found.
“This court concludes that the first element of murder – ‘that a person was killed’ – is absent in this case. The 58th count of murder will not prosper for it lacks corpus delicti,” the ruling stated.
“It must be borne in mind that proof of corpus delicti is indispensable in prosecutions for felonies and offenses, such as the crime of murder. Corpus delicti is the body or substance of the crime. It refers to the fact that a crime has been actually committed,” it added.
Judge Solis-Reyes thus acquitted all accused on the murder case filed for the death of Momay on the basis of reasonable doubt.
Appeals can no longer be filed for dismissed criminal charges such as Momay’s under the double jeopardy rule.
A team of forensic experts from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in 2012 found and verified Momay’s dentures at the crime scene.
This prompted the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a murder case for Momay.
But Judge Solis-Reyes ruled that the absence of Momay’s body and the lack of death certificate could not made certain that Momay was among the victims.
She explained that the prosecution relied only on “mere say-so of the prosecution witnesses that the victim wore the subject denture will not amply establish its identity.”
She further noted that assuming that the dentures were indeed Momay’s, it was not enough to establish that the photojournalist died in the hands of the convicted criminals.
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