THE arraignment for the kidnap case of an Indian-national was again postponed to June 22 due to the absence of a prosecutor.

During the morning hearing session at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 16, Presiding Judge Emmanuel Carpio ordered the postponement of the scheduled arraignment against Indian-national Jerry Singh Balbir, his live-in partner Josephine Urdaneta Onas, and siblings Bobby and Noel Onin because prosecutor Victoriano Bello Jr. was on leave.

Lawyer Michael Castaños, legal counsel of Onen brothers, then requested for the arraignment to be moved to June 22.

Carpio earlier ordered the transfer of the arraignment after it was known that the respondents have no lawyers to represent them.

While Castaños refused to divulge the motion that he is preparing for the defendants, he said in an interview that it was “very clear” that both of the Onins were arrested in their residence and that they were accused of having asked for the ransom money there.

“Wala man siguroy mangayo ug ransom money na ihatag iyang address sa balay (I don’t think anyone would demand ransom and ask that these be delivered to their house),” he said.

Castanos also said that no entrapment operation had happened.

It can be recalled that the accused, together with two unidentified cohorts, was charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention by Prosecutor Faizal Padate in a resolution dated April 20, wherein he found probable based on the complaint of the victim Jaspal Singh Malhi and testimonies of Bhupinder Singh, Sukhdeep Sidhu, Lolita Suco and police operatives who negotiated with the suspects for the release of the victim.

Malhi was abducted on April 7 after collecting money from his borrowers in Ula. He was on his way home when a white Mitsubishi Montero blocked his way. Three suspects alighted from the same vehicle and forcibly abducted him at gunpoint.

The Onins were arrested near their residence at Purok 3, Punta Dumalag in Matina Aplaya, as the supposed payoff turned out to be a police entrapment operation.

It was previously reported that Senior Police Officer 2 (SPO2) Jores Salaysay and SPO2 Alvin Vales of the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG)-Mindanao coordinated with the victim's relative Sukhdeep Sindhu in negotiating with the Onins until they agreed to have a payoff of P200,000 in exchange for Malhi's release.

Balbir and Onas' arrest, on the other hand, followed as they were pinpointed by Ronald Santic of Purok Dragon Fruits in Tugbok, who confessed to the police that he was supposed to be part of the kidnapping, and the victim. They were arrested around 6 a.m. at their residence. (KGL)