Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 14 sentenced John Paul Solano as guilty in relation with the death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) freshman law student Horacio â€œAtioâ€ Castillo III.
Castillo was found dead during Aegis Juris’ hazing rites in September 2017. Solano is a member of the same fraternity and a prime suspect on Atio’s hazing case.
Judge Carolina Esguerra ordered Solano’s conviction to a minimum of two years and 4 months up to four years and 2 months. However, the judge acquitted Solano on his perjury charges.
Based on sworn affidavits, Solano was with a convoy who took Atio to Chinese General Hospital where the victim eventually died. This is contrary to Solano’s first statement, where he claimed that he found the law student’s body on a sidewalk before asking for help.
“(Solano’s) fear of being implicated in the death of Castillo is not imminent. Had accused spoken of the true incidents prior to bringing Castillo to the hospital, the matter would have been investigated first by the police before hailing him to court should they find that he acted in complicity with the others in bringing about Castillo’s injuries,” said the MeTC Branch 14.
The suspect also admitted that Arvin Balag, head of the fraternity, forced him to give false statements to authorities.
The victim’s family welcomed the court’s decision.
“The fear which the accused claims to have overtaken him is not, in contemplation of law, as imminent as he believed, and is even speculative at that. Thus, his defense that he acted under the impulse of uncontrollable fear for his life or limb has no leg to stand on,” the court added. /with reports from Bombo Jerald B. Ulep; edited by Bombo Sol Marquez