Philippines to charge policemen in YouTube torture clip

The Philippine government said Tuesday it would file criminal charges against a dismissed Manila police commander and six officers who were filmed torturing a naked crime suspect.

Justice ministry investigators are to charge the seven with torture leading to the the death of the man, even though his body has not been found, senior assistant state prosecutor Phillip Kimpo said.

He said it was clear from the footage, believed to have been filmed through a mobile phone and which later became a viral hit on the video-sharing website YouTube, that the crime of torture was committed.

"The identity of the victim was further established by his wife and father... as well as the three former inmates in the police station who had witnessed the actual mauling (torture) of the victim," Kimpo wrote in his report.

Under a 2009 anti-torture act, physical beating that leads to the victim's death is punishable by a 30-year prison term.

The naked victim was believed to be Darius Evangelista, who was arrested for robbery on March 5 by police officers working for Senior Inspector Joselito Binayug, the commander of a Manila police precinct at the time.

The clip showed the victim lying on the floor and groaning in pain as a man identified by investigators as Binayug whipped him while simultaneously jerking a string attached to the victim's penis.

The footage also showed other men watching the torture taking place, Kimpo said. The origin of the clip was never established.

Three fellow inmates later identified the men in the clip as Binayug and other policemen, Kimpo said.

The inmates said the victim was later taken out of the police station and they never saw him again, he added.

Evangelista's wife and father reported him missing to the police five months later and identified him in the video clip.

Binayug was dishonourably dismissed from the police force last April amid a criminal investigation.

Kimpo said Binayug and the police suspects have challenged the legality of the use of the video footage as evidence, and cited the fact that the body of the victim, who is presumed dead, had never been found.

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