NIDA PROBE ENDS NEXT WEEK

Manila, Feb. 7, 2003 - Justice Secretary Simeon Datumanong yesterday said his agency would be able to complete its probe into one of its more controversial cases, the killing of government censor and former actress Dorothy Jones a.k.a. Nida Blanca.

“We will be able to issue the resolution by next week, Datumanong told reporters yesterday in connection with the Blanca killing which has cast a long shadow on the competence of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an agency under the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Datumanong earlier said he had tasked the NBI to make the two-year-old Blanca murder a top priority for the agency.

Blanca, was bludgeoned to death inside her car on Nov. 7, 2001 while she was about to leave the car parking lot of her office in Quezon City. Her lifeless body was discovered by security guards eight hours after she was attacked.

Initial investigation tagged her American husband Rod Lauren Strunk as one of the perpetrators of the killing which law enforcers claimed could have arisen from an extortion attempt gone awry.

The charges against Strunk were subsequently dropped, however, after a key police informant, Philip Medel, insisted he was tortured by policemen to own up to the killing.

On Nov. 29, 2001 Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño approved a DoJ resolution remanding the case to the Philippine National Police for “further investigation” and dropping the charges of parricide and murder against Strunk, Medel and Mike Martinez.

The four-page resolution was penned by State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco and prosecution lawyer Irwin Maraya and recommended for approval by Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab Jr.

A subsequent reinvestigation by the NBI practically echoed the earlier findings implicating Medel and Strunk.

Medel, who has since been under NBI custody, has been named in a libel charge by lawmen whom he accused of torturing him to admit the murder. Benjamin B. Pulta, Tribune


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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