Lawyers’ group slams transfer of Tiamzon couple’s trial
MANILA, Philippines – A group of human rights lawyers branded as overreaction the transfer of trial of suspected communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon from Quezon City Court to a police secured facility in Camp Crame.
The Tiamzon couple are facing charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases.
The venue of the trial was transferred from the Quezon City Court to Camp Crame after the Supreme Court has granted the request of Executive Judge Fernando T. Sagun Jr.
Sagun’s request was prompted by the protest rally held last year, when farmers and peasants group trooped to the Quezon City Court to show support for the Tiamzon couple. The protesters outnumbered the police stationed in the area.
“Such unilateral move is not only an overreaction to a legitimate and peaceful rally during the last hearing at the premises of the Quezon City Hall of Justice by peasants seeking the release of political prisoners but is also a clear reprisal for a valid exercise of a basic constitutional right,” Atty. Edre Olalia, Secretary-General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said.
Olalia said their other colleagues had difficulty entering the police facility.
“We have to even make a manifestation before the court,” Olalia said.
The high court in its ruling also approved the installation of roll up/roll down metal door, metal detector and close circuit television (CCTV) cameras. It ordered the Office of the Halls of Justice to study and conduct cost estimate.
“To continue the judicial proceedings inside a police fortress under very hostile conditions and atmosphere and beyond open scrutiny is inconsistent with the minimum requirements of due process mandating a fair and impartial trial that requires a public hearing,” Olalia said.
“The State has all the power and resources to continue the previous security arrangements that has worked out just fine prior to such unreasonable transfer,” he added.
Olalia said they would appeal the high court’s transfer order.
Pre-trial on the case will continue on April 15.
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