Court grants bail to Cornejo, Lee, Raz
MANILA, Philippines–Saying there was not enough evidence against the suspects, a Taguig court on Monday allowed Deniece Cornejo, businessman Cedric Lee and Simeon Palma Raz to post bail in connection with the charge of serious illegal detention—a nonbailable offense—filed against them by TV host-actor Vhong Navarro.
In a 72-page resolution, Judge Paz Esperanza Cortes of the Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 271 set the bail for the three at P500,000 each.
According to the judge, the prosecution “failed to provide evidence that said illegal detention [was] actually serious or for the sake of kidnapping.”
Cortes said that based on Navarro’s testimony in court, he “knew he was detained by [the suspects] and brought to the police station” after [his supposed mauling on Jan. 22] “for the purpose of charging him with the crime of raping” Cornejo.
“Whether or not there was such a rape on which the arrest [was] hinged is still to be determined in this case. What is relevant … is that the private complainant knew that at the time he was being detained, [it was for the] purpose of arrest on the charge of rape,” she added.
According to the judge, it was possible that Navarro was legally detained by the suspects. “After all, Rule 113 Sections 5 and 9 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure provide for citizen’s arrest,” she said.
Cortes also observed that the prosecution did not present “clear proof … that indeed, there was ransom demanded [for Navarro’s release].”
Axel Gonzalez, Cornejo’s lawyer, said that the three suspects could post bail within the week. Lee and Cornejo’s lawyers from the Calleja Law Office also called the court decision a big step toward proving their clients’ innocence.–With a report from Jerome Aning
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