Boniel murder case: Body of evidence gathered
WITHOUT the body of Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel, will the case against her alleged killers prosper?
Senior Supt. Jonathan Cabal, head of the Regional Intelligence Division, said they have at least two eyewitnesses to prove that Bohol Provincial Board Member Niño Rey Boniel masterminded and actually shot dead his wife Gisela on Wednesday dawn before throwing her body into the sea.
“Maganda sana kung mahanap namin ang katawan. Pero mismo ang board member ay umamin na na pinatay nila si mayor (Gisela) although ang sabi niya, ang pinsan raw niya ang mismong bumaril,” Cabal said in an interview yesterday.
(It would be good if we find the body. But the board member himself already admitted that they killed Mayor Gisela although he said it was his cousin who shot the victim.)
Parricide charges are being readied by the police against Niño while at least seven others will face a murder case at the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office which has jurisdiction over the part of the sea where Gisela’s body was believed to have been dumped.
At least 18 divers yesterday scoured the sea in between Bien Unido, Bohol, and the islands of Caubian and Olango off Lapu-Lapu City where the body of Gisela was believed to have been thrown.
However, they still have yet to find the missing mayor.
With or without Gisela’s body, Cabal insisted that they have a strong case against Niño and the other suspects.
Two of the suspects — Niño’s cousin Riolito “Etad” Boniel and driver Randel Lupas — pointed to the board member as having a hand in Gisela’s death, he said.
“We are utilizing them (Riolito and Lupas) as state witnesses. The revelations are spontaneous. I don’t think (they) will change their testimonies,” Cabal said.
Riolito, the pump boat operator who helped transport the dead body of Gisela to the sea, said it was Niño who shot the victim before they threw her into the sea with a rock weighing about 30 kilos tied around the mayor’s body.
Veteran lawyer Democrito Barcenas said the body of the victim does not have to be presented to ensure the guilt of the accused.
“It is unfair to say that cases wherein the body was burned down or thrown into the sea won’t prosper. As long as there are witnesses, it can stand,” Barcenas, who served as one of the private prosecutors in the parricide case against cult leader and former Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo, told
Ecleo was convicted for killing his wife in Cebu City in 2002.
“The only difference was, in our case, the victim’s body was found. In Boniel’s case, the body has yet to be recovered. But I doubt if they can still find it,” Barcenas said.
“The body of the crime is the crime itself, not the dead body. The Supreme Court has already responded to issues like this,” explained Barcenas, referring to a court ruling which states that “corpus delicti” refers to “the fact of the commission of the crime, not to the physical body of the deceased.”
“The corpus delicti may be proven by the credible testimony of a sole witness, not necessarily by physical evidence,” the High Court ruled.
For his part, prominent trial lawyer Inocencio de la Cerna Jr. said that while the body of the victim is necessary to prove that one has already died, a testimony from an eyewitness to the crime can change the complexion of the case.
“What if the person is still alive? We have to establish that the victim is really dead. If there is someone who saw the actual killing, then there is a probability that the accused can still be convicted of the crime charged,” he said.
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