Judge in UST hazing death inhibits self from case
The judge in charge of trying 10 Aegis Juris fraternity members accused of involvement in the hazing death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III has inhibited himself from the case.
In a resolution dated March 23, Judge Alfredo Ampuan Jr. of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 40 granted the motion filed by fraternity members John Robin Ramos, Juan Miguel Salamat and Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo to dispel their doubts that he “[has] tilted the scales of justice against them.”
Along with Arvin Balag, Ralph Trangia, Oliver John Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan, Axel Munro Hipe, Joshua Joriel Macabali and Marcelino Bagtang, they were charged with violating Republic Act No. 8049— a nonbailable offense — over Castillo’s death in September.
The petitioners claimed that Ampuan was “incapable of rendering fair and impartial judgment” in their case as his wife, Marilissa, was the sister of former Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption chair Dante Jimenez.
Jimenez has expressed his support for the Castillo family and even attended some of the case’s preliminary hearings.
While Ampuan’s resolution did not address this particular accusation, he said that their other claims of malice and impartiality “were without bases.”
Among these were his decision to proceed with the hearings despite the absence of a public prosecutor and the nonentry of Castillo’s lawyer as a private prosecutor.
“Mere imputations or bias is not enough ground for inhibition. Extrinsic evidence must be presented to establish bias, bad faith, malice or corrupt purpose in addition to palpable error which may be inferred from the decision or order,” Ampuan said.
With his decision to inhibit himself, the case will now be raffled off to another court.
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