Cedric Lee (left) and Deniece Cornejo (center) emerge from the Taguig Regional Trial Court after their bail petition hearing in the case of serious illegal detention of Vhong Navarro (right) in this composite of photos taken last May 16. Photos by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA - The Taguig Regional Trial Court has junked the petition of Deniece Cornejo and Cedric Lee, two of the accused in the January 22 mauling of actor Vhong Navarro, to stop their possible transfer to a regular detention cell.
Navarro's lawyer, Atty. Alma Mallonga, confirmed on Tuesday that the Taguig Regional Trial Court denied the plea in a resolution signed by Branch 271 presiding judge Paz Esperanza Cortes last June 16.
Lee and Cornejo, along with Simeon Raz, Jr., are charged with serious illegal detention and grave coercion in relation to the January incident involving Navarro.
Cornejo is under the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) at Camp Crame in Quezon City, while Lee and Raz are currently detained at the Manila headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
In an earlier interview with ABS-CBN News, Raz explained that being under the custody of the NBI "would be the preference, kasi mahirap naman, baka mamaya 'yung mga tao diyan (city jail inmates), kuyugin kami for no reason dahil akala nila kami ang masasamang tao."
He said at the time: "It's unfair naman sa amin, especially to our families, na something bad will happen to us, just because we are being made to look like... We're being demonized. It's unfair, really. Kaya nga kami nag-voluntary surrender sa NBI because we trust the NBI. We still believe in them."
Raz's statement was echoed in his camp's petition against a possible transfer to a regular city jail, citing that some inmates may be among Navarro's "loyal, passionate fans."
However, in the Taguig RTC resolution denying the plea, Judge Cortes said that their continued stay at the NBI or the CIDG "without any basis would be against the law."
The resolution added that the claims of threat to the lives of the accused are without merit, noting that based on inspections and interviews, the Taguig RTC has found that regular inmates "had not hatred in mind against the accused herein." -- with a report from Henry Atuelan, DZMM