ANGELES CITY, Pampanga - Citing security reasons, the police officer tagged in the 2016 kidnap-slay of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo on Thursday requested to be placed under the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group after he was allowed to turn state witness.
SPO4 Roy Villegas made the appeal after the Angeles City Regional Trial Court Branch 58 granted the Department of Justice's motion to turn him into a state witness, citing "absolute necessity."
As state witness, Villegas has been discharged from the indictment and, in effect, absolved of the crime. He has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center.
The police officer had admitted to participating in what he thought was a legitimate police operation when Jee was taken from his Angeles City home in the guise of a drug raid on Oct. 18, 2016.
It was Villegas who said in a sworn statement that Jee was strangled to death inside Camp Crame on the same day. At a Senate hearing, he pointed to SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel as the one who killed the Korean.
Villegas was supposed to testify against other policemen tagged in Jee's killing during Thursday's hearing.
But Judge Irineo Pangilinan had to halt the scheduled testimony as one of the respondents, Jerry Umlang, decided to remove his lawyer and opted to be represented by the Public Attorney's Office.
The next hearing is scheduled on February 8.
-- report from Pauline Manalo, ABS-CBN News