CA affirms conviction of Awang airport bombers
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - April 12, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the conviction of two Indonesian terrorists over the bombing of the airport in Awang, Maguindanao in 2003.

In a 23-page decision promulgated on March 30 and  released yesterday, the special 16th Division of the appellate court affirmed the ruling of the Pasig City regional trial court (RTC) in 2015 finding Taufiq Rifqi and Zulkifli Julkifli guilty of murder and attempted murder. The CA also affirmed the  RTC ruling sentencing the two Indonesians to life imprisonment without parole.

The CA rejected the “defenses of denial and alibi” of the respondents in dismissing their petition to reverse the conviction.

 “The court finds no compelling ground to disturb the factual findings of the RTC…The rule is well-settled that…findings of the trial court regarding the credibility of witnesses are accorded great weight and utmost respect given that trial courts have first hand observation of the witnesses’ demeanor while testifying in court,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob.

In April 2016, the CA division upheld the conviction of Feliciano de los Reyes and Dinno Pareja, who were named respondents in the case. The ruling held that “appellants were properly convicted of the complex crime of murder with double attempted murder and should be meted out a single penalty.”

Records show the respondents used an improvised explosive device, which they planted on a multicab. The bombing left a soldier dead and several others wounded.

The respondents were said to be members of the Rajah Solaiman, a group of Christians who converted to Islam, and allied themselves with the regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.

COURT OF APPEALS
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