Wednesday, February 08, 2006

DOJ Conducts Own Investigation Into Stampede

Originally uploaded by josephthaddeus.
The Department of Justice today admitted that it could not proceed with the preliminary investigation into criminal liabilities arising from the Ultra stampede which left 74 people dead and more than 700 injured.

Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño said they needed a complaint from the Inter-agency Fact Finding Team but what the team turned over to the department yesterday was just a report of what had happened during the stampede on February 4, 2006.

"We cannot use it as a basis for preliminary investigation. There was no offense alleged and there were no one recommended for prosecution," Zuño said.

He added that the report lacked documentary evidence like medico-legal report, death certificates and police reports.

The DOJ had wanted to return the report to the fact-finding team but decided instead to form another panel of prosecutors to evaluate the report. This panel will work closely with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and will be different from the first panel of five prosecutors who was tasked to conduct preliminary investigation.

"The report of the fact-finding team will serve as a jump-off point but the prosecutors will look into other angles. The NBI will determine criminal culpabilites," Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon.

Fadullon said the new panel was given 10 days to evaluate the report and suggest loopholes which the NBI could plug.

Atty. Marius Corpuz, head of the fact-finding committee said it was not their task to recommend charges against those which the committee perceived to be responsible for the tragedy.

"We may have thought of some people who should be charged but we refrained because it's the DOJ's job," Atty. Corpuz said.

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