‘Cult leader’ stays in jail after dismissal of plea

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Monday, June 9, 2014


ALLEGED cult leader Casiano Apduhan, who is accused of detaining a woman in his house in Balamban for more than five years, will remain in jail as the court has denied his appeal for the dismissal of the criminal case against him.

Judge Hermes Montero of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 59 in Toledo City did not find enough merit to grant Apduhan’s motion for judicial determination of probable cause.

Apduhan's arraignment for the serious illegal detention case is set on June 30.

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Apduhan, through lawyer Danilo Yap, asked the court to dismiss the case, saying there is not enough evidence to indict him. He presented his alleged victim, Emma Bocabal Nepomuceno, during the hearing on the motion last month and the latter denied she was detained by the accused.

The prosecution presented two witnesses—Apduhan's former follower and a psychologist—during two hearings.

The psychologist said Nepomuceno suffered Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon in which a hostage or victim expresses empathy and sympathy for the captor.

Apduhan’s former follower identified Nepomuceno as the woman he saw detained in the cult leader’s house.

Montero did not give weight to Nepomuceno's assertion that she voluntarily went to Apduhan's house to seek refuge from her chaotic family life.

“At this stage of proceedings, where the accused has not been arraigned yet, it is not prudent for the court to dismiss the case based on the affidavit of denial of serious illegal detention and the testimony of Nepomuceno...The quantum of evidence required is much lower or lesser than proof beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.

Under the Revised Rules of Court, probable cause is defined as evidence that satisfies to “engender a well-founded belief” that the suspect (respondent) is probably guilty in committing a crime and the investigating prosecutor “finds cause to hold the respondent for trial.”

The phrase also means “apparent state of facts found to exist upon reasonable inquiry, which would induce a reasonably intelligent and prudent man to believe that the accused person had committed the crime charged.”

Probable cause is determined by a prosecutor during a preliminary investigation, which occurs when the arrested respondent opted to answer the charges or the respondent is not detained when a complaint is filed against him.

The complaint is filed in court for trial when the prosecutor finds probable cause.

Montero, in his order, quoted two jurisprudences to support his decision. One states that “the court may not interfere with the control of the fiscal (prosecutor) over the case” and the other provides that “in a clash of views between the judge who did not investigate and the fiscal who did, those of the fiscal's should normally prevail.”

Last March 26, Nepomuceno was rescued in Apduhan's residence in Barangay Buanoy, Balamban by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 and the Provincial Women's Commission (PWC).

Apduhan was also arrested that time. Aside from serious illegal detention, complaints for murder and violations of the anti-child abuse law and anti-human trafficking law were filed against him.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 10, 2014.

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