Court Finds Four Philippine Police Guilty In Drug War Killings

Court finds four Philippine police guilty in drug war killings

Manila, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Jun, 2024) Four Philippine policemen were found guilty Tuesday of killing a father and son, court officials said, in a rare case of law enforcement officers being prosecuted for taking part in former president Rodrigo Duterte's deadly drug war.

The four low-ranking officers were all sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for the shooting deaths of the two victims at a Manila slum during an anti-drug police operation in 2016, Manila regional trial court judge Rowena Alejandria said in her written verdict that was read in court Tuesday.

"It must be worthy to note that the accused themselves did not deny their presence and participation in the police operation conducted, the same event where the victims Luis and Gabriel (Domingo) were killed," Alejandria wrote.

Thousands of drug suspects were killed by police and unknown gunmen in a campaign that became the centrepiece of Duterte's 2016-2022 rule, a crackdown that critics described as state-sponsored extrajudicial killings and is now a subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court.

Luis Bonifacio's partner, Mary Ann Domingo, cried on her son's shoulder as they listened to the verdict on two counts of homicide each being read at the cramped northern Manila courtroom.

Manila policemen Virgilio Cervantes, Arnel de Guzman, Johnston Alacre and Artemio Saguros were also ordered to pay 300,000 pesos ($5,120) each in damages to the victims' heirs.

The family has alleged more than a dozen police officers took part in the nighttime raid at the northern Manila slum community.

The family insisted the two were not involved in drugs and were unarmed when police opened fire.

The defendants pleaded self-defence, alleging the suspects were armed and had shot at them.

But state prosecutors went with the lesser charge of homicide against only four officers, instead of murder, which involves deliberate intent to kill and which carries a heavier penalty.