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DoJ panel formed to probe Horacio case

By: Jeffrey G. Damicog

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has formed a panel of prosecutors who will conduct the preliminary investigation on the death of hazing victim Horacio Tomas “Atio” Castillo III.

Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. has issued an order dated Oct. 2 naming Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva as the chairman of the panel, and Associate Prosecution Attorneys II Wendell Bendoval, and Honey Rose Delgado as members.

The DoJ is set to start the preliminary investigation on Oct. 4 and 9.

Last Sept. 25, the Manila Police District (MPD) filed criminal complaints before the DoJ against 18 persons believed to be involved in the Aegis Juris fraternity initiation rites which led to the death of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student.

The respondents are John Paul Solano, Ralph Trangia, Trangia’s parents Antonio and Rosemarie, Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Ranie Refael Santiago, Olier John Audrey Onofre, Jason Adolfo Robinos, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Matthew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Munro Hipe, Marc Anthony Ventura, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro, and Jose Miguel Salamat.

They were accused of murder, perjury, robbery, obstruction of justice, and violation of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law.

The MPD also included other unidentified members of the Aegis Juris fraternity and its sorority Regina.

Among the suspects, Solano was the only one who surrendered to the MPD but was eventually freed.

While, Ralph Trangia already fled to the United States with his mother.

MPD investigators said on the morning of Sept. 17, Castillo was brought to the Chinese General Hospital by Solano using a red Mitsubishi Strada with plate number ZTV-539.

The vehicle was found registered to Antonio Trangia, who is also a member of the fraternity.

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