MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division has acquitted a former head of a forensics laboratory in Cebu on charges of falsification of a medical certificate and obstruction of justice, saying there was no proof he had faked an autopsy report.
Former Senior Supt. Nestor Sator, who was the chief of the Regional Crime Laboratory Office 7 of the Philippine National Police, was charged with falsification after he allegedly made it appear that a person died of tuberculosis instead of a traumatic neck injury.
The court noted in its decision dated Jan. 31 that the prosecution witness, National Bureau of Investigation Central Visayas medico-legal officer Rene Cam, said there was dislocation in the neck area of the victim, but added this could have been the result of the first autopsy.
“Given these circumstances, the difference in the findings does not warrant the conclusion that the autopsy report made by accused Sator is a falsified document,” the court said in the decision penned by Division Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. with the concurrence of Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Lorifel Lacap Pahimna.
The Office of the Ombudsman earlier filed the charges against Sator after the former crime lab chief said the death of Mario Alfie Dacuyag on April 13, 2013 was because of asphyxia due to bleeding pulmonary tuberculosis when the real cause of death was a neck injury.
Sator cannot be faulted for obstruction of justice as the prosecution failed to establish that the autopsy report would greatly affect the criminal investigation on the death of Dacuyag, the court said.
“It was in fact accused who advised the mother and siblings of Dacuyag to lodge a complaint against the security personnel of Gaisano Mall because of the presence of erythema in his autopsy report,” the court noted in the decision.
The court also ordered the release of the bail deposited by Sator for his provisional liberty as well as the lifting of a hold departure order issued him.