CA acquits Napoles of serious illegal detention case
The Court of Appeals has acquitted suspected pork barrel scam architect Janet Lim Napoles of serious illegal detention case filed by whistleblower Benhur Luy.
In a 35-page decision by Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro, the CA’s Twelfth Division reversed the April 2015 ruling of Judge Elmo Alameda of Makati City Regional Trial Court, Branch 150, convicting Napoles of serious illegal detention.
“The accused-appellant Janet Lim Napoles is acquitted based on reasonable doubt. She is ordered to be immediately released from detention, unless she is confined for any lawful cause,” the appellate court said in decision dated May 5.
But Napoles cannot be freed from detention because of pending plunder and malversation charges filed against her before the Sandiganbayan by the Office of the Ombudsman, in connection with the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam. Plunder is a non-bailable offense.
In clearing Napoles, the CA said it found the evidence presented by the prosecution “grossly insufficient to sustain a conviction” and that the crime was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
“The essential element of serious illegal detention is that the victim was restrained or deprived of his liberty. Thus, the prosecution must show actual confinement or restriction of his person. There is no serious illegal detention where the fact of detention was not clearly established,” the appellate court declared.
Associate Justices Samuel Gaerlan and Jhosep Lopez concurred with the ruling.
Two months ago, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed with the CA a manifestation recommending Napoles’ acquittal.
Among the evidence Calida said convinced the Solicitor General of Napoles’ innocence is that Luy was even able to see his family three times during his supposed captivity. DMS