Janet Napoles acquitted by CA on Benhur Luy detention case

    MANILA, Philippines - Two years after Janet Lim Napoles skyrocketed to mainstream consciousness for her alleged illegal money dealings, as well as, illegal detention of her cousin and Benhur Luy in an effort to downplay the scandal, she is being acquitted of the latter allegation.

    Janet Napoles acquitted by CA on Benhur Luy detention case
    Janet Lim Napoles, wearing a bulletproof vest, takes her oath after arriving at the Senate to testify at a public inquiry in Manila November 7, 2013 (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)
    The verdict, which was handed down by the Court of Appeals 12th Division dated on May 5, has cited reasonable doubt as the main proponent of the decision mere months after The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) Jose Calida argued the guilty verdict set by a local court. The appeal, which is filed with the CA, is a “manifestation in lieu of rejoinder” suggesting of a review and eventual overturn for Napoles’ initial sentence. Calida also pointed out that the evidence presented against Napoles is not strong enough to merit her a guilty ruling.

    It can be remembered that in April of 2015, the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 found Napoles “guilty beyond reasonable doubt.” She was then sentenced to serve lifetime inside prison for illegally detaining Luy for three months from December 20, 2012, up to March 23, 2013, at a supposed safe house located in Makati City.

    CA further explained that the prosecution failed to establish an enough connection between the burden of proof and Napoles regarding the case. The overturn in verdict calls for Napoles’ immediate release from Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City where she is being detained since 2015.

    Luy’s camp obviously did not receive the development in the case that well. Lawyer Raji Mendoza, Luy's counsel, said in a statement that while they are unhappy with the recent turn of events, they are trying to move forward and plan their next legal step to make sure Napoles does not simply get away.

    The acquittal of Napoles, however, does not mean that she is already free of all charges. The serious illegal detention case is just among a pile that she and her camp are still battling. This include her alleged involvement with the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Napoles, who is dubbed as the pork barrel scam mastermind, has been accused with plunder and malversation, putting her in the same boat as former Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile.

    --Ana Dumaraog, The Summit Express

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