Murder, not parricide charges vs Strunk?

() - August 10, 2002 - 12:00am
With the Nida Blanca murder case up for preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice on Monday, the National Bureau of Investigation is thinking of amending the charge filed against primary suspect Rod Strunk from parricide to murder.

This after NBI director Reynaldo Wycoco told reporters that Blanca’s marriage to Strunk, according to lawyer Harriet Demetriou, was void, as she was not married in the Philippines. Demetriou is the lawyer of Blanca’s daughter, Kaye Torres.

"Harriet Demetriou said Blanca’s wedding to Struck was void. On that aspect, if they are not married in accordance with Philippine laws, parricide won’t apply," said Wycoco.

Because of this, Wycoco said Demetriou suggested that the case jointly filed by the NBI and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) against Strunk be changed accordingly.

"She suggested that the case be changed from parricide to murder. But we’ll talk about it in the preliminary investigation," Wycoco said.

Agents handling the case, however, said that the amendment of the charge filed against Strunk will entirely be up to the prosecutors of the case.

Meanwhile, Strunk denied anew having a hand in the killing of Blanca and said he did not know any of the new witnesses presented by the prosecution.

In a television interview, Strunk’s lawyer Alma Mallonga said his client was undergoing therapy in the United States and was "still praying that the truth will come out."

Asked if Strunk was returning to the Philippines soon, Mallonga replied: "He feels his rights are being protected in the United States." She did not elaborate.

NBI agents handling the case said there is reason for Demetriou’s worry as the Justice Department may dismiss the case against Strunk on a technicality if the marriage is indeed found to be void.

Records showed Blanca and Strunk were married on Feb. 5, 1981, the same day Blanca divorced her first husband, Victorino Torres, Kaye’s father.

Aside from Strunk, Philip Medel Jr. and six others face murder charges for their alleged involvement in the crime, including three security guards assigned at the Atlanta Center in San Juan, for obstruction of justice.

Meanwhile, two armed men allegedly identified with a retired general are reportedly conducting surveillance operations on one of the witnesses in the Blanca murder case.

In a statement filed with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), witness Rogelio Salutin said at least two armed men closely associated with retired Gen. Galileo Kinatanar came looking for him between 8 and 9 p.m. last Sunday night.

Two other witnesses, former Philippine Constabulary Major Pedro Pates and Nilo Gonzaga also claimed they received death threats through text messages since they came out in the open linking Strunk and Medel to the murder. – Mike Frialde and Christina Mendoza

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