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Hold departure order sought vs 2 Canadians linked to drug cartel

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 04:39 PM June 27, 2015

Concerned that the accused may take flight, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has immediately asked a Makati court to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against two Canadian drug suspects said to have links with a notorious Mexican drug cartel.

In a motion filed on Friday afternoon, Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera asked Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 135 to readily issue an HDO to preempt any possible attempt by Canadians James Clayton Riach and Ali Memar Mortazavi Shirazi to leave the country after they were granted bail.

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The two were among four Canadian nationals arrested in separate raids in three upscale condominiums around Metro Manila in January, which yielded P100 million worth of cocaine, “shabu” and ecstasy.

Riach and Shirazi are facing trial for drug possession at the Makati court, while the two others—Barry Espadilla and Christian Olazo—are facing a separate case before a different sala.

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The motion cited how Judge Josephine Advento-Vito Cruz, in granting Riach and Shirazi temporary liberty, had reversed her earlier ruling denying the bail plea as she found it had “no sufficient basis.”

“We were shocked that they were granted bail.  Justice Secretary (Leila de Lima) immediately ordered us to file a motion for HDO.  She was also surprised about the grant of bail,” Navera told the Inquirer in an interview.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has retained custody of the two, deferring their release until exhausting “all legal remedies” such as the HDO plea to keep them in the country.

“Even as it granted the accused’s petition for bail and set the case for hearing on July 14, the order glaringly failed to direct that the accused actually attend the hearing on the said date and not leave Philippine jurisdiction,” Navera said in the motion.

“Because they are accused of a capital offense, the accused are obvious flight risks and they have every incentive to jump bail and evade further prosecution,” Navera said.

Navera also told the court in the motion that his team intends to appeal the bail grant as soon as they “actually receive” a copy of the June 22 order.

“It must be stressed that both accused are foreigners, being Canadian citizens … Thus, in order to prevent the accused from leaving Philippine criminal jurisdiction and avoid a miscarriage of justice, an HDO must be issued by the court,” read Navera’s four-page motion.

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“Once the accused leave the Philippines, they will no longer return,” Navera warned in the pleading.

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TAGS: Ali Memar Mortazavi Shirazi, Barry Espadilla, Christian Olazo, Department of Justice, Drugs, James Clayton Riach, Juan Pedro Navera, Mexican drug cartel
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