The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of a lead suspect in the hazing death of UST law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III from Senate custody.
Arvin Balag, “grand praefectus,” of Aegis Juris, the law fraternity implicated in Atio’s slay, was detained in the Senate after he was cited in contempt for repeatedly refusing to answer questions in a hearing last Oct. 18.
“Order in the interim the immediate release of petitioner Arvin R. Balag on the basis of his prayer set forth in his Motion to Resolve Petition pending the resolution of the instant petition by the Court,” a resolution dated Dec. 12 stated.
Aegis Juris fratman Marc Anthony Ventura, who surrendered and applied to become state witness on Oct. 25, claimed Balag dealt the final blow that rendered the 22-year-old Atio unconscious during the initiation rites last Sept. 17.
Balag was identified as Aegis Juris president based on the fraternity’s records, but he claimed he resigned his post in August.
In a petition filed before the Supreme Court last Nov. 7, he challenged his detention, saying the Senate probe into Atio’s death was in aid of “prosecution” instead of legislation.
Balag claimed his detention violated his right to a fair trial. He said he was not respected as a resource person.
Balag was among the several suspects facing charges of murder, robbery and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law.