MANILA, Philippines - Lawyers representing the four men accused of beating and stabbing 41-year old Marine George Anikow in Makati City last November on Thursday asked Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 59 Judge Winlove Dumayas to issue an order to stop the circulation in the Internet of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the fatal mauling.
“The unrestrained uploading of the video on Youtube would violate the rights of the accused. The undue publicity may mold public opinion against what the court may later decide,” said Teodoro Jumamil, lawyer for accused Crispin dela Paz, 28.
Defense lawyers said what is being circulated over the Internet is not the full video of the mauling but portions of the CCTV footage that have been picked to show Anikow being helplessly attacked by the accused.
“There are so many aspects of the incident that were not shown in the uploaded video,” Jumamil said.
Judge Dumayas meanwhile assured the defense lawyers that he will later base his decision of the case on evidence and will not be swayed by public opinion.
“I have never made popular decisions. I evaluate the case based on evidence. We try to make correct decisions, not popular decisions,” said Dumayas.
Meanwhile, defense lawyers cross-examined Leo Puri, the security officer and CCTV operator at the Rockwell Center who made a copy of the CCTV mauling footage for the Makati Police.
Puri, under questioning from lawyer Miguel Damaso, who represented accused Juan Alfonso Abastillas, 24, admitted that the mauling incident footage as recorded by Rockwell Center’s perimeter CCTV camera had a gap of two seconds.
Under questioning by Damaso, Puri also testified that the CCTV camera system did not record the mauling incident continuously as it was not the system’s format.
“Kusang pinuputol ng system ang footages. Hindi siya nag rerecord continuously at ang system na ang kusang pumuputol,” Puri said.
Puri also admitted under questioning by Jumamil that a CCTV footage could be tampered with or even destroyed.
Jumamil then asked Puri if would be possible that a copy of the mauling incident footage he had copied from the CCTV computer hard drive at the Rockwell security office to a blank disk could also be tampered with.
Puri replied that he would not be aware whether the copy he had made of the footage had been tampered with as he only copied what was contained inside the hard drive.
Puri said it took him almost 40 minutes to burn a copy of the footage on the blank disc. He then told the court that he handed the copy to his superior, Damasino Dosohan who then affixed his signature on the disk.
Assistant City Prosecutor Hannah Arriola had earlier said the copy of the footage made by Puri is a “faithful copy” of the footage stored in the CCTV server at the security office of the Rockwell Center.
Arriola said the CCTV footage is vital to the prosecution and would prove that the accused Abastillas, Dela Paz, Osric Cabrera, 27; and Galicano Datu III, 22; have conspired to murder Anikow, 41, a US Marine and husband of an American diplomat stationed in Manila.
Makati Police earlier said Anikow, a resident of the Bel-Air Village, was being checked by security guards at the gate when the four suspects arrived aboard a gray Volvo sports utility vehicle (TOJ-886) around 3:55 a.m. on Nov. 24.
Police said the suspects intended to enter the village as a short cut to Palm Village, where Cabrera lives.
Police said Abastillas, who was driving the SUV, rolled down his window and talked to the security guard when Anikow, reportedly interrupted them and said: “You need to present your ID, the guard is checking you.”
Police said Abastillas initially ignored Anikow but before the SUV could move away, Anikow allegedly strongly tapped the driver side portion and rear passenger side of the vehicle. This caused the suspects to alight and confront Anikow. Police said village security guards tried to mediate but the argument soon turned into a brawl.
During the brawl, Anikow ran away from the suspects who then chased him.
When the four caught up with Anikow, police said they continued to beat him up until he fell to the ground. It was later learned that Anikow was also stabbed in the neck during the fight. Police later recovered a tactical knife inside the SUV.