4 indicted for murdering US Marine in Makati
MANILA, Philippines - The 4 suspects in the killing of a US Marine and spouse of a diplomat were indicted for murder on Thursday, November 29. Murder is a non-bailable offense.
The charges initially recommended by the Makati police were confirmed by the city prosecutor, who used as basis the statement of a Rockwell security guard incriminating Juan Alfonso Abastillas, Crispin de la Paz, Osric Cabrera and Galicano Datu III.
Makati City senior assistant prosecutor Christopher Garvida also found probable cause against the 4 on the basis of a CCTV footage that captured the brawl early Saturday, November 24. The brawl resulted in the fatal stabbing of US Marine George Anikow.
The 4 suspects will remain detained at the Makati police headquarters pending instructions from the court.
Anikow's remains are currently in a funeral home for autopsy, while the results of DNA tests on the evidence are expected to be released in two weeks.
The indictment sparked anger among the families of the suspects, one of whom suggested that the US exerted pressure on the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the prosecutor to file murder charges instead of homicide, a bailable offense.
"The US Embassy is trying to pressure, influence the DOJ to reverse the ruling to murder, and this pressure is too much," said Dr. Jose Cabrera, the father of Osric Cabrera.
Dr. Cabrera called on the police to jail only those suspects who were seen stabbing the victim and not the rest who only engaged him in a fistfight.
Dr. Cabrera also stressed that there cannot be a murder charge without intent to kill: "What constitutes murder? (…) a premeditated plan (…) but they did not know [the victim], they met him because he tried to harass [the suspects]."
"There is no murder, not even homicide because there was no planning," he said, and explained the boys were "just trying to talk it out" with Anikow before the brawl started.
Police denies US pressure
Asked about the allegations raised by Dr. Cabrera, Makati police chief Senior Supt. Manuel Lukban categorically denied that police investigators were pressured by consular officials.
"He's trying to make a national issue out of the case," Lukban said.
The police chief pointed out that "it was not only the stabbing incident that caused the death" of Anikow, and called attention to the CCTV footage which shows, according to him, how the suspects continued to punch Anikow after one or two of them had already stabbed the American.
The security guard told the police that Anikow "irked" the alleged assailants by tapping their car.
"There was a cruelty on their part, and this is a qualifying circumstance for murder, Lukban said, and added: "Unfortunately for them, the [images] cannot lie."
Victim had combat experience
As for the victim, the US Marine Corps official newsletter published that Anikow, of Monmouth, New Jersey, was a reserve officer who served 8 years (1994-2001) as an infantryman and was currently on assignment as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee, which allowed him to reside in the Philippines with his diplomat wife Laura and 3 kids, aged 6, 10 and 12.
The burly man -- of Mongolian descent according to people who knew him in Makati -- also had a 9-month combat tour in 2009 in Afghanistan, where he served with the 4th Civil Affairs Group in charge of developing relationships with the local population.
Anikow received numerous awards and distinctions during his military career, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
The US Marine Corps is said to be already arranging for the funeral, to take place in the United States. - Rappler.com