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Cop in Korean's kidnap-slay turns state witness.

A police officer accused of involvement in the kidnapping and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo has turned state witness.

Senior Police Officer 4 Roy Villegas satisfied the requirements to become a state witness, being the least guilty among the accused, Regional Trial Court Branch 58 Judge Irineo Pangilinan Jr. said in granting the petition of the Department of Justice.

'From the evidence submitted by the prosecution in support of its motion to discharge...Villegas, it appears that while he directly participated in the execution stage, he had no direct participation in the actual killing of Jee Ick-joo,' read the order issued on Jan. 3, a copy of which was released on Monday.

Pangilinan cited Section 17, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Court, which allows the dismissal of the complaint against an accused provided that he testifies against his co-accused.

The court said the testimony of Jee's househelp Marissa Morquicho was 'weak' and 'very limited' as it did not include the actual killing of Jee.

Jee was taken with Morquicho from his home in this city on Oct. 18, 2016. Morquicho was later released.

'She cannot therefore identify who among the accused consummated the killing of the victim...or who conspired with whom,' the order stated.

On the other hand, the court said the testimony of Villegas could qualify as direct evidence against the respondents and 'absolutely necessary' to prove the guilt of the other respondents.

Villegas, the court said, was at the crime scene. He can therefore testify regarding certain facts necessary for the conviction of the accused.

'There are also several unidentified culprits at large whose degree and participation are yet to be ascertained to complete the missing puzzle of the case,' the court added.

Villegas had tagged Superintendent Rafael Dumlao III, former head of the Philippine National Police's Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, as the mastermind in the killing together with SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, an alias Jerry, an alias Pulis and five other men.

'Great help'

Meanwhile, Jee's widow Choi Kyung-jin welcomed the court ruling even as she expressed optimism that Villegas' testimony would be a 'great help' in determining the guilt of the defendants.

Villegas will testify tomorrow.

Choi said the government should make good its promise of a speedy trial and the conviction of the accused.

'I won't stop and I will fight till the end until all my questions are answered. Who did it and why did they do it?' she said.

An alleged victim of the so-called tokhang for ransom, Jee's body was reportedly cremated and flushed down the toilet of a funeral parlor in Caloocan City.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Jan 10, 2018
Words:523
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