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Solon calls for probe on cause of death among inmates linked to De Lima case 

PHILSTAR

A LAWMAKER called for a probe on the deaths of high-profile prisoners and possible links to the detention of a former senator. 

House Deputy Minority Leader France L. Castro said recent reports of a testimony of a prisoner at the national penitentiary claiming that one of his inmates did not die of COVID-19 but of murder “needs to be independently investigated.” 

Ms. Castro, who represents the ACT Teachers party-list, said the examination of this case and other supposed coronavirus-related deaths among National Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmates might shed light on the case of former senator Leila M. De Lima, who has been in prison since 2016 for charges relating to drug trade.

“They are (possibly) linked to former Sen. De Lima’s case because at least half of them either testified against her or was sent to the NBP because of her.” Ms. Castro said in a Viber message on Saturday.  

In August last year, Ms. De Lima sounded the alarm on what she called a “beleaguering trend” of deaths among “convicted government witnesses in the trumped-up drug cases” against her.   

This year, four witnesses had retracted their allegations against Ms. De Lima. These are: drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Z. Ragos, Ms. De Lima’s former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, Joel Capones, and Marcelo L. Adorco. They all claimed they were coerced to testify against Ms. De Lima.  

Ms. Castro said the investigation should answer who is behind the series of incidents and what they could possibly benefit from it.   

“I think that the one behind this is someone very powerful during that time (these inmates died) and (is) also the one behind Sen. De Lima’s incarceration,” Ms. Castro said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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