Brother charged with murder in killing of businessman Dominic Sytin

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged Dennis Sytin with murder in the killing of his brother, businessman Dominic Sytin.

Dennis was also charged with frustrated murder over the injuries suffered by Efren Espartero, who has with Dominic when the latter was attacked by a motorcycle-riding gunman in front of the Lighthouse Resort and Hotel in Subic in November 2018.

The charges were initially for forwarding to the Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) because Dominic was killed in Olongapo City, but Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they had asked the Supreme Court to transfer the case to Manila.

Guevarra explained that this was "for the safety and security of the witnesses principally, and to avoid any pressure upon the court and the prosecution, given the sphere of influence of the contending parties and the intense public interest generated by this sensational case."

"The Olongapo court should proceed until the Supreme Court actually orders a transfer of venue," he added.

Gunman Edgardo Luib, who was arrested in March, had pointed to Dennis as the one who ordered the killing of his brother. Central Luzon police director Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel had earlier said the motive was a corporate dispute.

The brothers were supposedly quarrelling over their shares in the company United Auctioneers National, which is engaged in the importation of secondhand vehicles, said police. Luib, in his confession to police, had cited this as the motive behind the hit on Dominic.

Legal basis

Dennis had invoked the rule called res inter alios acta, which in essence means that the statement of an accused cannot be taken against another co-accused. This rule is supported by several SC decisions.

In this case, the DOJ said "rigid rules in judicial proceedings should not be strictly applied" because it was still in the indictment process, and not for the purposes of conviction.

"What is determined is whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial," said the 54-page resolution signed by Senior State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutors Ethel Rea Suril and Wendell Bendoval, and Prosecution Attorney Gino Angelo Yanga.

The prosecution panel gave weight to the fact that Luib passed their credibility test.

"The Firearms Identification Report as well as the Dactyloscopy Report places him in the scene of the crime and at the place where he left his get-away vehicle, as well as the helmet, cap and magazine he used in the killing of Dominic Sytin," said the panel.

Also charged with murder and frustrated murder were Luib and Ryan Rementilla, a former UAI employee who was fired for allegedly embezzling company funds.

"Based on the statements made by respondent Luib, we have no recourse but to find probable cause that respondents Alan Dennis L. Sytin and Ryan D. Rementilla a.k.a. Oliver Fuentes conspired with each other and carried out their plan to kill victim Sytin and hired respondent Luib to execute the malicious plan," said the panel.

Dennis denied the charges and said he would see the reversal of the panel's resolution. Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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