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Regional court clears gun charges vs rights worker

A regional court in Calamba City has dismissed the illegal gun possession charges against a human rights worker arrested during what has been dubbed as the “bloody Sunday” raids in March 2021 where nine activists were killed and four others detained.

In an 18-page resolution on Wednesday, the Calamba City Regional Trial Court Branch 37 granted Nimfa Lanzanas’ demurrer of evidence and acquitted her of illegal possession of firearms charges.

The court also ordered her immediate release.

“This court finds that the police officers conducting the search failed to observe the strict procedures laid down by the rules in the implementation of the search warrant,” according to the ruling penned by Presiding Judge Caesar C. Buenagua.

The court added that government prosecutors failed to prove that the supposed search warrant presented during the raid was seen by witnesses.

“Nonetheless given the circumstances, the unavailability and or the apparent reluctance of these witnesses to appear and testify damages the case sufficient to create reasonable doubt for the acquittal of the accused,” it said.

A demurrer to evidence asserts that the evidence submitted by the opposing party is insufficient to prove guilt.

Ms. Lanzanas was arrested along with three other activists during the raids conducted by law enforcers in the neighboring provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Batangas, and Cavite in March of last year.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), after a recommendation by a task force formed by the Justice department, filed murder charges against 17 policemen allegedly involved in the raids. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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