Griffiths ‘not a fugitive yet’; warrant did not reach UK-A A +A
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
IS British national Ian Charles Griffiths a fugitive or not?
Although a local court issued an arrest warrant against him and his partner Bella Ruby Santos for the abduction-slay of schoolgirl Ellah Joy Pique, Griffiths cannot be considered a fugitive from the law.
The defense panel emphasized this in a statement, as it warned that public officials in Cebu who continue to issue “incorrect and misleading statements” to the media could be “legitimate targets for future court actions.”
“He (Griffiths) is neither a fugitive nor is he in hiding; he is not on bail or at large. The British police know his address and telephone numbers, but they have absolutely no reason to act on that information,” defense lawyer Rameses Villagonzalo said in a statement.
Griffiths has reportedly instructed his lawyers in the United Kingdom to remove his name from the “Red List Notice” of the Interpol since his inclusion in the list is a “breach of his human rights.”
Griffiths, 48, of Southwest London, and his girlfriend Santos, 35, were issued warrants of arrest for their alleged involvement in the abduction and murder of Pique last Feb. 8, 2011.
The Cebu prosecutors elevated the case to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) last March 4, 2011.
Judge Ester Veloso, who is trying the case, issued the arrest warrant against the couple and a hold-departure order (HDO) against Santos.
Veloso is also tackling the motion of Santos’s counsels to allow her to post bail.
Griffiths was released by the United Kingdom (UK) authorities from police bail commitment last June 28, or 13 days before Judge Veloso issued the arrest warrant against him and Santos.
In the statement, Villagonzalo said that a “regular stream of erroneous statements” issued by the prosecution last year and their repetition on Monday’s hearing caused an “increasing concern” on the part of the defense.
“Let it be quite clear: (Ian Charles) Griffiths is neither on bail nor under arrest in the United Kingdom, his movements are not being monitored and he is not being investigated,” said Villagonzalo.
Griffiths’ lawyers in London reportedly inquired from their local police and government but did not receive an arrest warrant forwarded by the Philippine Government to the United Kingdom.
“As far as the United Kingdom authorities are concerned, he is free to come and go as he pleases, to travel and pursue his chosen profession,” said Villagonzalo.
“All the while, the real injustice is being done to Ellah Joy Pique by the Philippine authorities with their total lack of investigative activity into identifying the real culprit,” he added.
At least 10 witnesses told the court that they saw Santos and Griffiths “before, during and after” the abduction of six-year-old Ellah Joy in Calajoan, Minglanilla in the afternoon of Feb. 8, on board their sports utility vehicle.
The police also got testimonies from people who said they saw Griffiths park the same vehicle on the side of the highway near Sayaw Beach in Barili around midnight of Feb. 8, where Ellah Joy’s body was found.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 25, 2012.