Judge urged to stand down after granting bail to cop in Jee Ick Joo case

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Jee Ick Joo
Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Dumlao, left, and Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo.

The judge presiding over the Jee Ick Joo murder trial has been urged to stand down after granting one of the accused police officers bail.

Prosecutors from the Department of Justice have asked Angeles City judge Irin Zenaida Buan to recuse herself after allowing Colonel Rafael Dumlao III — the alleged mastermind of the 2016 kidnap and killing — temporary liberty.

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As we previously reported, Judge Buan allowed Dumlao to post bail of 300,000 pesos for each of the three cases against him. A similar petition by the two other accused — Ricky Santa Isabel and Jerry Omlang — was refused.

The three face one case of kidnapping for ransom with homicide, another for kidnapping and serious illegal detention and another for car-napping before the Angeles City Regional Trial Court Branch 56.

In a 12-page motion, the prosecution said the judge “grossly misappreciated the facts pointing to the culpability on the part of accused Dumlao and the conspiracy of all the accused in committing the crimes charged” and “completely brushed aside categorical facts and circumstances” testified by witnesses that Dumlao “was the mastermind, if not one of the planners” of the alleged acts”.

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“The Honorable Court has committed serious errors in facts and in law, which necessitate an unbiased reevaluation and a detailed reexamination of all the evidence thus far presented by the People to warrant a reconsideration of the grant of bail to accused Dumlao,” the prosecutors said in the 12-page motion that was published today (Friday, May 24).

They also argued that the order granting bail to Dumlao was “not only unfair to The People, it is also selective and smacks of discriminatory treatment to the other accused, who are similarly situated as co-conspirators.

“As such, the Presiding Judge should have treated them similarly and denied all of them bail. But she did not. She must therefore stand down from these cases and let another unbiased judge hear the evidence, without fear or favor,” they said.

The motion was filed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Juan Pedro Navera and Olicia Laroza-Torrevillas and Assistant State Prosecutor Ethel Rea Suril. 

Jee Ick Joo abduction

Mr Jee was abducted along with his maid Marisa Morquicho on October 18, 2016, from his home in Angeles City. The police used the pretext of conducting a drug raid.

The Korean was taken to police national headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, where he was killed the same day. Morquicho was later released.

After the murder, the accused allegedly continued to contact Mr Jee’s wife and demanded ransom for his release.

After a series of negotiations, Mrs Jee handed over five million pesos. Later, the suspects demanded an additional four million pesos but Mrs Jee refused unless they could show proof of life. When they failed to do so, she reported that her husband was missing.

It later came to light that the businessman was strangled to death with a bike lock just yards from the office of then national police chief Ronald de la Rosa. The suspects allegedly had him cremated and flushed his ashes down a toilet

The case continues.

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