by Rimaliza A. Opiña
The Office of the City Prosecutor dismissed the complaint against two individuals accused of killing the disbursement officer of the regional office of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, early morning of Aug. 1.
Assistant City Prosecutor Rolando Vergara dismissed the complaint for alleged murder against Vijay Punjabi and Bonifacio Salingbay, suspects in the killing of J/Insp. Matthew Nicer, saying the evidence submitted by the investigators were hearsays.
Records showed that Punjabi and Nicer were customers in a bar along Legarda Road night of July 31. At past midnight, an altercation ensued between the two when Punjabi approached Nicer to talk to him. During their discussion, the latter allegedly got irked and hit Punjabi on the stomach then slapped him.
Punjabi went out of the bar and tried to call his wife on hi cellular phone. Nicer followed Punjabi outside, challenged him to a fistfight, and pointed a gun at him. Punjabi raised his hand and turned his face from the gun’s muzzle.
After a few seconds, a male shot Nicer in the head, then walked casually from the scene.
Punjabi, on the other hand, stayed on the scene until police arrived.
The triggerman was identified by witnesses as Salingbay.
Records showed he was the one whom Punjabi was calling in his cellular phone when he went out of the bar, not his wife as claimed.
The investigating prosecutor said there is no sufficient evidence that would prove Punjabi and Salingbay conspired to kill Nicer.
Vergara said CCTV footages did not contain evidence of the identity of the triggerman. Affidavits of witnesses also did not show that they have positively identified the triggerman. All of them said they only heard gunshots. Salingbay was identified as the triggerman on the basis of a single photograph provided by police.
The prosecutor said the identification of a suspect during investigation have been breached by showing only the picture of Salingbay to the witnesses, tagged him as the suspect without specifying why and how he was tagged as such.
“To support the case, identification of the witness was practically made for the witnesses, instead of the witnesses identifying the suspect for the police.”
The bar’s singer, supposedly, the one who saw the incident, failed to prove that Punjabi was talking to the triggerman moments before Nicer was shot, the investigating prosecutor added. “A scrutiny of the records would show that as of now the only evidence linking Punjabi to the crime is the fact that he made a phone call and moments later, Mr. X arrived then shot Nicer. Other than this fact, there is no clear evidence to show that Punjabi acted in conspiracy with Mr. X. The mere presence of a person in a crime scene does not establish conspiracy. Speculations and conjectures, no matter how probable they may be, are not synonymous to evidence,” a portion of the resolution stated.