Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trillanes seeks dismissal of hotel siege case

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and his co-accused asked a Makati court yesterday to dismiss the rebellion charges against them, claiming government prosecutors violated their constitutional rights against double jeopardy.

Trillanes and 12 Magdalo rebel soldiers are facing charges of rebellion for their alleged participation in the standoff at the Peninsula Manila hotel in Makati last November.

The case is being heard by Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150.
Trillanes’ lawyer, Ernesto Francisco Jr., said the Constitution mandates that no person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense.

“For double jeopardy to set in, the following requisites must concur – there is a valid complaint or information; the complaint should be filed before a court of competent jurisdiction; the accused has pleaded to the charge; and the accused has been convicted, acquitted, or the case has been dismissed or terminated without the express consent of the accused,” he said.

Francisco said tomorrow’s scheduled pre-trial conference should be cancelled so he filed a motion to quash the charges against three new respondents in the case on grounds that the prosecution’s claim that they had undergone preliminary investigation is false.

Francisco said the prosecution made the mistake of submitting a third amended information six months after the original charges were filed and three months after his clients underwent arraignment.

Francisco said Trillanes and his co-accused were charged and arraigned under an amended information dated Dec. 2, 2007, which was edited when another amended information was filed last June because three more respondents were added.

Francisco said the third amended information is “an entirely new and different information,” which charged his clients for the same offense of rebellion.

“Thus, the withdrawal of the amended information, dated Dec. 2, 2007 under which the accused were arraigned without their express consent (because they refused to enter a plea) and the filing of the new third amended information, dated June 18, 2008, which charges the said accused for the same offense of rebellion, have placed the said accused in double jeopardy,” he said.

In withdrawing the Dec. 2, 2007 information by filing that which was dated June 18, the prosecution did not get the consent of the accused, which is a requirement under the rules, he added.

In response, Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco said the prosecution did not violate the rules on double jeopardy because the amended information only meant to add more respondents to the case.

“There is no double jeopardy there because when we filed it, they were notified,” he said. “They were given the time to comment. It was not a substantial amendment, just inclusion of three more accused. A very important factor there is that when we filed that amended information, they were duly notified. Therefore, there was no violation of the due process clause.” – Michael Punongbayan

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