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Makati City court finds Leviste guilty of homicide.

Manila: A Philippine diplomat was on Wednesday found guilty of shooting his aide to death at the end of a two-year high profile court drama.

Consul General to Palestine Antonio Leviste was given the guilty verdict by Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150, for shooting to death Rafael delas Alas, his close friend.

Leviste was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison for committing homicide and had been ordered to pay the heirs of delas Alas P100,000 (Dh7,793) in moral and civil damages.

Leviste, who was governor of Batangas province south of Manila from 1972 to 1980, said that he had killed delas Alas in self defence following a heated argument inside his office in Legaspi Village in Makati City.

The victim sustained several gunshot wounds from Leviste's pistol leading Alameda to conclude that there had been a "determined effort" by the businessman to kill his assailant.

Aside from involving a diplomat and former governor, the January 12, 2007 killing gained prominence because it involved another public official, Senator Loren Legarda.

Legarda was married to Leviste but their union ended in 2004 with their separation. Legarda and Leviste are both Muslim converts.

Reports quoted delas Alas' children as saying that they had already forgiven Leviste for the killing of their father.

According to Dinna, delas Alas' daughter, their family was satisfied with the verdict, even if it was lowered to homicide from murder.

Leviste had been appointed Consul General by President Gloria Arroyo in 2007 despite the controversy surrounding the killing of delas Alas.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jan 15, 2009
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