Philippine court orders arrests over Taiwanese fisherman shooting
Central News Agency
2014-04-22 09:10 PM
Manila, April 22 (CNA) A Philippine court has issued arrest warrants for eight Philippine Coast Guard officers charged with homicide in the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman last year, according to the Philippine Department of Justice. The Basco, Batanes Regional Trial Court Branch 13 issued the arrest warrants for Coast Guard Commanding Officer Arnold dela Cruz and seven of his subordinates in an order dated April 7, but the Department of Justice received the orders only on Monday. Basco is the capital town of Batanes, the province near which Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng was killed by fire from the Philippine Coast Guard in May last year. The court set bail at 40,000 pesos (US$898) for each of the suspects. If convicted of homicide, each is liable for 12-20 years behind bars.

Although the defendants submitted a motion for reconsideration to the department on April 10, the court went ahead with the arrest warrants because prosecutors had given sufficient evidence and reasons for filing. An investigation into the shooting incident alleged that Coast Guardsman Edgardo Aguila fired the shot that killed Hung, but prosecutors believe that all eight suspects acted in unison when they fired upon the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 as it operated in waters where the two countries' exclusive economic zones overlap. The Cagayan Valley Municipal Trial Court Santa Anna Branch also issued arrest warrants for Arnold dela Cruz and Seaman 1st Class Mhelvin Bendo for obstruction of justice earlier this month in connection with the case. Charges were filed after it was discovered that gunnery reports they submitted following the incident indicated that 36 rounds of ammunition were fired at the Taiwanese boat while the actual number of bullets was 108. (By Emerson T. Lim and Lilian Wu)

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