MANILA – Philippine authorities have arrested a 35-year-old Filipino man in the death of a Japanese man whose body was found Wednesday, police said Saturday.
Police officer Aquilino Almanza said the suspect, Benny Ortiz, was identified by a man who said he saw him drag the body of Yasuhiro Kawabe, 56, of Fukui Prefecture, into the shadows near where the body was found.
Police arrested Ortiz at 6 p.m. Friday at his residence in Manila’s Pasay district.
Kawabe’s body was found at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in a grassy lot in the district. A .45-caliber gun was found under his hand. Police said it was placed there in an attempt to make it appear that Kawabe took his own life.
Almanza said the witness, identified as Miguel Pelisan, told police investigators that he saw Ortiz dragging Kawabe’s body but that he did not see Ortiz shoot him nor hear a gunshot.
Ortiz, who is being held in the Pasay City jail pending the filing of murder charges against him, denied the accusations, saying he had nothing to do with Kawabe’s death.
Ortiz’s wife was also taken in for questioning but was not detained.
Almanza said police investigators are also looking for another male suspect, but did not elaborate.
Almanza said they are seeking to determine a motive for the killing, saying Kawabe’s watch and wallet, including his money, were not disturbed.
In their initial report, Pasay police said Kawabe committed suicide. Almanza, however, said they have now ruled out suicide as the cause of death.
Almanza said murder charges are expected to be filed Sunday.
A separate investigation is also being conducted by an elite police group upon the request of Kawabe’s son, who flew in from Japan on Thursday.
Kawabe’s son said his father could have not killed himself. Moreover, he said Kawabe does not own a gun and does not even know how to fire one.
Police said Friday a laboratory test found no traces of gunpowder on Kawabe.