Autopsy ruled out for Pope-A A +A
Sunday, January 27, 2013
CEBU CITY - The body of John Pope was cremated late Friday night upon the request of his family, who also declined an autopsy and had the ashes released to a friend of Pope’s in Negros Occidental.
But even in the absence of an autopsy, the acting chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) said there was enough basis to believe the fatal shot was self-inflicted. A strand of the Canadian national’s hair was found in the muzzle of his gun.
“That could only mean he committed suicide,” said Acting CCPO Director Mariano Natu-el Jr.
Two policemen had fired at Pope in a stairwell of the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office, where he went last Tuesday morning after shooting Dr. Reynold Rafols, Atty. Jubian Achas and Assistant Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño.
Rafols and Achas died in court, while Casiño remains in a private hospital.
In a one-page letter from the Canadian Embassy, Cindy Taylor wrote that Pope’s next kin had authorized the Embassy of Canada in Manila, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Canada, to facilitate the cremation and cover the costs.
The letter, dated January 25, 2012, was addressed to Mario Esparica, branch manager of the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes on Junquera St., Cebu City.
Taylor further wrote that the family of Pope refused to authorize an autopsy. The letter didn’t say why.
Pope’s body was released from Cebu Doctors’ Hospital last Wednesday and brought to the funeral parlor.
Dr. Nestor Sator of the Police Regional Crime Laboratory-Central Visayas began a post-mortem examination at 1:25 p.m. that ended less than an hour later.
The cremation started at 7:02 p.m. and the ashes were later handed to Ires Adiong of Sagay City, Negros Occidental.
Chief Superintendent Marcelo Garbo Jr., head of the Central Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO), said the police also recovered a cellular phone owned by Pope. They hope it could yield leads on how or where Pope got his firearms.
“It’s hard because the firearms were unregistered. It’s like waiting for a breakthrough,” Garbo said.
The phone was sent to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for forensic examination.
The cremation and absence of an autopsy irked the brother of Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Casiño.
“We can’t go after him or anyone anymore to redress the incident. Ihangad na lang ni nato sa langit (We’ll just leave this to Divine Providence),” said Jojo Cornejo, the prosecutor’s brother.
Cornejo said they are thankful that help keeps on pouring in for his sister, whose bills and other expenses hover at around P50,000 a day.
He also revealed that Casiño was removed from life support on Saturday. “All of her faculties are now functioning well,” Cornejo said.
Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane said that when he visited the assistant prosecutor on Friday, she expressed willingness to continue with her work, despite the risks she has just faced.
Gubalane said he jokingly asked Casiño to go back to work as soon as she recuperates.
She replied, “Yes, sir.”
Employees of Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 6, where Casiño is a resident prosecutor, have said that Pope must have borne a grudge against her, after she appealed to the court to enforce a deportation order against Pope that was issued last October.
In an interview, Prosecutor Gubalane said Casiño’s condition continues to improve and the national prosecution office is still accepting financial assistance to help her family with the medical bills.
Top officials of the Department of Justice, including Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, pledged financial aid to the wounded prosecutor, said Gubalane.
The Prosecutors’ League of the Philippines will also give P100,000 as financial assistance.
Secretary de Lima, in a statement, extended her sympathy to the families of the victims.
“We are closely following the condition of our prosecutor. There is never a reason for violence or cause for disregard of life. While the shooter reportedly killed himself, a careful investigation is on course to meet the ends of justice and to prevent similar incidents from happening again and again,” de Lima said.
“Immediate action is needed to ensure the safety and security of personnel working in the front lines of the rule of law,” de Lima said.
Dr. Rafols and Pope were neighbors when the Canadian accused an officer of the condominium where he lived, of stealing their association’s funds. Pope later claimed he was harassed on orders of Dr. Rafols, while the doctor filed cases of grave threats and malicious mischief against the ex-journalist.
At one point in May 2011, Pope was arrested in the building where the Rafols couple has a clinic, for alleged illegal possession of a firearm. (DSM/GMD/ Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2013.