CA affirms conviction of 2 Indonesians in 2003 airport blast
MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) upheld the murder conviction of two Indonesian terrorists involved in the bombing of the Awang Airport in Maguindanao in 2003.
In a March 30 ruling, the CA's Former Special 16th Division affirmed the decision issued by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court, which sentenced Zulkifli Julkifli alias Ahmad Faisal and Taufiq Rifqi, to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years of imprisonment.
The two, members of the notorious Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), were found guilty of murder with double attempted murder for the bombing of the airport located in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao. The February 2003 incident killed Sergeant Nelson Corpuz and injured several others.
The RSM also worked with Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf on the Superferry bombing in 2004 and the Valentine's Day bombings in 2005. (READ: 9/11 and the Black Flag movement)
"The Court finds no compelling ground to disturb the factual findings of the RTC. As herein before pronounced, the rule is well-settled that factual findings of the trial court regarding the credibility of witnesses are accorded great weight and utmost respect given that trial courts have firsthand observation of the witnesses' demeanor while testifying in court," the CA said in a 23-page decision penned by Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob.
The appellate court also increased the moral damages due to the heirs of Corpuz from P50,000 to P75,000.
In its ruling, the CA did not give weight to the "defenses of denial and alibi" made by the accused, given the testimonies and positive identification of the witnesses.
Investigation showed that the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device placed in a white Suzuki multicab, which was parked at a restaurant across the airport's entrance gate.
The appellate court also denied the claim of the accused that their arrest violated their constitutional rights.
The CA also held that the trial court did not err in ruling the crime as one aggravated by treachery and premeditation. – Rappler.com
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