MANILA, Philippines -- A Quezon City court Friday directed the Department of Justice (DoJ) to conduct and conclude a preliminary investigation within 20 days on the multiple murder charges filed against the three suspects in the November 13, 2007 bomb attack at the Batasan complex.
Regional Trial Court Branch 83 Judge Ralph S. Lee granted the motion for preliminary investigation lodged before his court by the accused -- Caidar Aunal, Ikram Indama and Adham Kusain -- but denied their petition to be released from detention pending the result of the proceedings.
Lee ruled in his three-page order that despite the contention of the prosecution that the accused had already undergone preliminary investigation, Aunal, Indama, and Kusain ?remain entitled to a preliminary investigation.?
?The right to a preliminary investigation is a statutory right, but once invoked should be granted. Its denial over this opposition is a prejudicial error in that it subjects the accused to loss of life, liberty or property without due process of law,? Lee said.
As for the motion filed by the accused to be released for the duration of the preliminary investigation, the judge ruled that the absence of the proceeding did not justify their discharge from detention ?because such defect did not nullify the information.?
He further said the absence of a preliminary investigation is not a ground to quash the complaint or information but should move the court, once informed of the omission, to order the prosecutor to conduct the proceeding.
The judge set the arraignment of the accused on Feb. 26.
He likewise ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) custodial center to transfer all the accused to the Quezon City Jail.
The bombing of the Batasan Pambansa south wing killed six persons -- Basilan Representative Wahab Akbar; Akbar?s staff worker Julasiri Hayudini; Marcial Taldo, driver of Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan; and Dennis Manila, Maan Gale Bustalino, and Vercita Garcia, all members of the staff of Negros Occidental representative Pryde Henry Teves.
The three suspects were arrested in a raid two days after the blast in a house at a Payatas subdivision. The joint police and military operation resulted in the death of three persons, including suspected Abu Sayyaf Group leader Abu Jandal.