Aegis Juris fratmen seek bail after indictment in Atio case

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TWO AEGIS Juris Fraternity members filed motions to dismiss or to be allowed to post bail before the Manila Regional Trial Court on Monday, after being charged by the Department of Justice over the hazing death of law freshman Horacio Castillo III.

Jose Miguel Salamat and John Robin Ramos reiterated their arguments that Castillo died of a pre-existing heart condition and that there was no strong evidence of guilt for them to be prosecuted.

Their motions also attacked state witness Marc Anthony Ventura’s statements, citing his testimony that Castillo was paddled on his lower extremity. The medico-legal report, they said, found trauma in the upper extremity that caused Castillo’s death.

Lawyer Lorna Kapunan, legal counsel of the Castillo family, said they would file a petition for review of other evidence that were not included in the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution that indicted 10 fratmen.

Fraternity alumni could also be held liable for obstruction of justice, she said.

“We will be filing a petition for review. As mentioned by Senator (Panfilo) Lacson, the resolution did not take into consideration the evidence pointing to obstruction of justice and complicity of the senior brods,” Kapunan told the Varsitarian in a text message.

Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said on Friday the DOJ might have overlooked evidence of an alleged cover-up in the hazing death.

“The pieces of evidence like the authenticated contents of the group chat participated in by clearly identified members and officers, the video footages and other documents should have been enough for the DOJ to find probable cause to also charge them for being accessories after the fact at the very least,” he said.

The Senate had recommended the disbarment of Aegis Juris alumni-lawyers involved in the alleged cover-up.

Carmina Castillo, Atio Castillo’s mother, agreed with Lacson, saying a cover-up was already a crime.

“I cannot stress enough my disappointment and anger towards these frat men, for covering up a crime instead of helping. They all conspired to protect a fraternity that practices hazing that is against the law,” she told the Varsitarian.

Salamat and Ramos, together with Arvin Balag, Ralph Trangia, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Hipe and Marcelino Bagtang were formally charged in court last week for violating the Anti-Hazing Law.

John Paul Solano, a licensed medical technologist who brought Atio to the Chinese General Hospital after the hazing rites of the Aegis Juris Fraternity in September, was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

The Manila Regional Trial Court set a hearing on Salamat and Ramos’ motions on March 16.

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