/

Philippine prosecutors quash complaint in Japanese murder case

Kyodo

Philippine prosecutors have quashed a complaint filed by police against a Japanese man, his Filipino wife, and four other men over the killing of a Japanese travel executive in Manila in May.

Napoleon Ramolete, deputy city prosecutor of Paranaque, a Manila suburb where Hiroshi Iwasaki, 59, was murdered, said city prosecutor Amerhassan Paudac approved on June 30 a request by Iwasaki’s wife, Illuminada, to quash the complaint so as not to “put on trial certain persons whose participation in the crime has not been sufficiently established.”

Iwasaki, an executive director of a travel and tours agency that maintains an office in a hotel in the Makati financial district, was driving home on the night of May 6 when one of two men on a motorcycle shot him dead.

The Paranaque police filed a murder complaint May 26 with the prosecutor’s office against Yoshikazu Ogura, his wife, Edna, and four unidentified men, based on circumstantial evidence gathered from statements by Iwasaki’s wife and other witnesses. They suggested the motive may have been related to money issues.

In her submission at the prosecutor’s office June 23, Iwasaki’s wife said that after reviewing the police investigation and consulting with her lawyer, she believes the police investigation was not sufficiently thorough and that “the commencement of these proceedings appears to be premature.”

“The case, as prepared by the Paranaque police station, is based on purely circumstantial evidence and is thus insufficient to establish probable cause. The Paranaque police investigators have not even identified the gunman,” she said.

Although she requested the complaint be withdrawn, she said she still hopes for “swift justice against my husband’s killers” and has asked another police body, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, to conduct further probes.

The police tagged the Oguras in the case after Illuminada accused the latter, before the shooting occurred, of “repeatedly inquiring” about the victim’s whereabouts and the vehicle he used while commuting to and from his office.

Illuminada also said that around the time of the incident, Edna Ogura had rented an apartment for one month that was later occupied by two men. The men stayed only for two days, checking out immediately after Iwasaki was shot, police said in their complaint.

Illuminada said her relationship with Edna soured after Iwasaki refused to sell plane tickets to the Oguras due to their substantial unsettled debts.

In an interview July 4, Edna denied all the allegations against her and her husband, claiming her relationship, both personal and business, with the Iwasakis was “very good.”

“We’re really innocent. I don’t know why she would implicate us. I have been very good to her, and we didn’t have any fight. In fact, on the morning of May 6 we were at her house because she invited me to attend her cooking class,” she said.

Edna said she and Illuminada became friends in 2010 after their husbands had already become acquainted. Since that time, they had used the services of Iwasaki’s travel agency, especially for business-related activities.

Edna said she and her husband had not gone into hiding, and had not received any notice or communication from the police, adding that they had attended both the wake for Iwasaki and his cremation service on May 11.

She said she only learned of the complaint against them on June 5 after her husband saw news reports mentioning their names.

Edna Ogura said that just as she has no idea why Illuminada implicated her and her husband, she also does not understand why Illuminada suddenly withdrew the criminal complaint.

“Is she trying to play games with us?” she asked, noting that Illuminada has now stopped communicating with her.

Raul Tolentino, the Oguras’ lawyer, said he believes unsettled money issues can’t be a motive because, referring to several properties and business activities of his clients, the Oguras are much richer than the Iwasakis.

He said that he and his clients are considering “taking punitive measures over the trumped-up charges.”

Ramolete said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group can still file charges in the case if its own investigations merit such action.