Pope’s body not yet examined-A A +A
Thursday, January 24, 2013
THE surgeon and lawyer who died inside a Cebu City courtroom last Tuesday were shot at close range, a police post-mortem exam showed.
But authorities still have to autopsy the gunman, John H. Pope, to confirm if he shot himself in the head or if the fatal gunshot came from policemen.
Courtrooms in the Chief Justice Fernan Palace of Justice resumed hearings yesterday, except for the sala where Pope shot and killed Dr. Reynold Rafols and his lawyer, Jubian Achas.
Rafols was shot first and the gun was held directly against his head, said medico-legal officer Nestor Sator.
His examination also revealed that Achas was shot from less than two feet away, based on the “tattooing” or powder burns from the firearm.
Homicide investigators of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) have already contacted the Canadian Consulate for help in reaching Pope’s immediate family in Canada.
As of yesterday, his body remained in a hospital morgue and still had to be autopsied.
Acting Cebu City Police Office Chief Mariano Natu-el Jr. said the medical expenses have to be settled before the body is released.
Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño remained in an intensive care unit, a bullet still inside her nape, a day after Pope allegedly shot her in the hallway outside the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 1.
Achas and Rafols were shot in the other wing of the Palace of Justice, inside the MTCC Branch 6 where Pope faced cases of malicious mischief.
Achas was prosecuting Rafols’ case against the Canadian, the doctor’s former neighbor.
Achas was also a first-degree cousin of Rafols’ wife, Dr. Elaine Pesons-Rafols.
The Rafols family declined to issue a statement on the tragedy.
“The wife of Doctor Rafols is still grieving at this time, they are not ready to face the public. Let us respect their privacy,” said Sandra Plantar, a cousin of the slain pediatric surgeon.
Until a family member or representative comes forward to claim Pope’s remains, the police are putting off an autopsy.
Sator said one of things he will have to check is for “smudging” around the wound on
“The presence of smudging, which is the blackening of the periphery of the wound, will help us determine whether or not Pope committed suicide,” explained Sator.
After the shooting, Pope was found in a stairwell near the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office.
Police Chief Natu-el said an autopsy will confirm if the shots from PO2 Celso Rivera Jr. and PO1 Oriel Hagupit merely immobilized Pope, or were the ones that killed him.
Apart from the .357 that he used, Pope also had a loaded .45 pistol inside a bag. A separate investigation will try to find out how he managed to bring it inside the courtroom despite security at the entrance and a gun ban that’s been in effect since Jan. 13.
Natu-el, however, said there is no need to wait for an autopsy to recommend incentives for Rivera and Hagupit.
“It is not an intention to kill, because we as policemen are ordered to preserve life. What they did was just to disable him,” said Natuel.
He added he will include in the recommendation SPO2 Zosimo Rabanes, who assisted Prosecutor Casiño and brought her to a private hospital.
He was on his way to a hearing when the shooting occurred.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 24, 2013.