Lawyers of military accused in Cadapan-Empeno disappearance fined by Court

Karapatan expressed disgust with the successive postponement of hearings in the trial of the kidnapping and serious illegal detention case filed against Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., Col. Felipe Anotado, Staff Sgt. Edgar Osorio and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario for the disappearance of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno. 
At the yesterday’s hearing (Feb. 10), Judge Teodora Gonzales, of the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14, fined Atty. Abner Torres and Atty. Joey Cruz, lawyers of Col. Anotado and S/Sgt. Osorio respectively, for failure to submit to the Court the judicial affidavits of their witnesses. 

The lawyers for Col. Anotado and S/Sgt. Osorio had repeatedly asked for postponement of hearings, the fourth since September last year, because they could not present their witnesses, “giving a menu of excuses to play for time,” according to Karapatan. 

“This is an obvious tactic of the defense to circumvent the law. Clearly, the military do not have any credible witness to counter the testimones and positive identification of the witnesses of the prosecution,” said Cristina Palabay, Secretary-General of Karapatan.

Atty. Cruz said they are having a hard time to gather their nine witnesses, which are all in the military service. The lawyers asked for another extension, until April 7, to procure the judicial affidavits of their  witnesses, which the court granted despite the fine. 

Lawyers for Osorio and Anotado have been postponing the hearings “for an unreasonable length of time,” said Palabay.“Five months had passed and there are still no witnesses. Are they now running out of witnesses-for-hire?,” Palabay said. 

The case of kidnapping and serious illegal detention is pending since December 2011. Of the four accused, only Anotado and Osorio are undergoing trial while Palparan and Hilario remain free, more than two years after the warrant of arrest against them were issued.  ###