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Cebu News

Over wrongful arrest: Couple sues PHL gov't for $60M

- Mylen P. Manto -

CEBU, Philippines - A Norwegian national and his Filipina fiancée are seeking $60 million in damages from the Philippine government represented by President Benigno Aquino III before the United Nations Human Rights Council – Office of the High Commissioner in Geneva, Switzerland after they were wrongly arrested for a crime they did not commit.

Sven Erik Berger and Karen Esdrelon filed a complaint for violation of human rights and violation of the child abuse law, seeking for damages amounting to US $60,000,000.

Lawyer Glen Villariza, counsel of the complainants told The FREEMAN that his clients were informed two weeks ago that the complaint their filed have been received.

Based on the complaint it stated that the Republic of the Philippines is a signatory of the Geneva Convention in the declaration of human rights and treaties.

“Being a signatory, the high commissioner of the Human Rights Council has jurisdiction over the Philippines and congruently the latter has a binding obligation to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland,” the complaint reads.

Berger and Esdrelon said their human rights were violated by the acts of the employees of the Republic of the Philippines by baselessly detaining them for 16 days and that the Philippines is congruently liable to the damage caused by its employees.

“The herein complainants reputation was damaged not just in Norway and the Philippines, but around the world especially that Internet communication are accessible around the globe,” the complaint further reads.

Villariza and lawyer Gil Tanyag stated that the high commissioner of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland is the only tribunal where the complainants could “properly seek redress of their grievances and damaged against the Republic of the Philippines.”

The complainants also said that the representatives, agents, law enforcement agencies and employees of the Philippines violated the “internationally honored child abuse law due to improper, illogical, unreasonable and impractical handling of child witnesses.”

Berger and Esdrelon were the first suspects in relation to the kidnap-slay of six-year-old Ellah Joy Pique in February last year.

The two were allegedly tagged by the minor witnesses as the ones who abducted Pique on February 8, 2011. The following day Pique was found dead in Barili town on the southern part of Cebu.

Berger and Esdrelon were detained inside the stockade at the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) following their arrest at the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

The two were scheduled to go to Hong Kong to spend Valentine’s Day, but never got to do so because of the arrest.

They were stopped by am immigration officer, who noted that they resembled the cartographic sketch of the suspects in the Pique kidnap-slay case.

The two were subsequently freed after the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office found no sufficient evidence to indict them prompting the dismissal of the complaint.

Meanwhile, Bella Ruby Santos and her British boyfriend Ian Charles Griffiths are now implicated as new suspects in the death of Pique.

Santos is now under trial before Judge Ester Veloso of the Regional Trial Court Branch 6. She is detained at Naga City Jail.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is still on the process of extraditing Berger from United Kingdom to face the charges here.

Pique was walking on her way home from the Calajoan Elementary School in Minglanilla, when she was abducted. — /NLQ (FREEMAN)

A NORWEGIAN BELLA RUBY SANTOS BERGER AND ESDRELON CALAJOAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CEBU PROVINCIAL POLICE OFFICE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ELLAH JOY PIQUE GENEVA CONVENTION GIL TANYAG REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
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