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Court junks bid to dismiss fatal hazing case

/ 05:40 AM March 04, 2022
Frat member in fatal hazing sentenced to 2-4 years in prison

FILE PHOTO: Horacio “Atio” Castillo III. INQUIRER FILES

MANILA, Philippines — A Manila court junked the bid of 10 fraternity members allegedly involved in the death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III seeking to dismiss the hazing case against them.

In a 10-page order dated February 24, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 11 denied the demurrer to evidence, which was separately filed by the Aegis Juris fraternity members, due to “lack of merit.”

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A demurrer is a motion to dismiss a criminal case due to insufficient evidence. It can lead to the acquittal of the accused if the court grants it.

Acting Presiding Judge Shirley Magsipoc-Pagalilauan dismissed the motion filed by Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Axel Munro Hipe, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Ralph Trangia, Robin Ramos, Jose Miguel Salamat, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, and Marcelino Bagtang Jr.

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She said the prosecution was able to establish that the victim died of hazing and all the accused were present when the crime was committed.

“It is now incumbent upon the accused to adduce evidence to controvert that of the prosecution or that they prevented the commission of a crime of hazing,” Magsipoc-Pagalilauan said.

Heart enlargement

Castillo, a 22-year-old first year student at UST’s Faculty of Civil Law, died of severe blunt traumatic injuries after allegedly going through the fraternity rites of Aegis Juris.

WHAT WENT BEFORE: Atio Castillo hazing case

The petitioners said the prosecution failed to prove he died because of injuries from hazing and stressed that his death was due to heart enlargement.

The fraternity members also called the statements of prosecution witness Mark Anthony Ventura as “perjured and biased,” saying these were “incredulous, inconsistent and loaded with improper motives.”

READ: ‘Very emotional’ witness tags frat brothers in Atio Castillo case

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But Magsipoc-Pagalilauan pointed out that even under the assumption that Castillo died because of heart enlargement, the 10 accused could still have criminal liability for his death if they would prove to be the cause of death.

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TAGS: Aegis Juris, court, Fraternity, hazing, Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, law student, UST
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