The Court of Appeals has rejected a US request to extradite a Filipino-American businessman charged with conspiring to kill his wife to collect $300,000 in insurance money in California.
The appellate court said the United States “failed to sufficiently establish, such strong and convincing evidence” for the Philippines to extradite Abelardo Tasa.
The US “merely harped on what perceived to be circumstantial evidence,” the appellate court said in a 21-page decision, upholding the ruling of the Manila City Regional Trial Court.
Tasa is set to face trial at the Supreme Court in California, Country of San Diego, Central Division for the death of his wife Rebecca 19 years ago in Lakeside, California.
On June 22, 1992, Tasa reported to police that he arrived home and saw his wife dead at the entrance of their residence.
Autopsy showed the victim sustained three stab wounds. Her neck was slashed.
Tasa, who owned and operated Taco Time restaurant, allegedly paid his employees, Timothy Shawn Victor and Jose Daniel Flores, to kill his wife to collect insurance money.
Victor was convicted on June 10, 1998 and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. On September 12, 2005, Flores pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was meted 26 years to life in jail.
Tasa fled to the Philippines but was later arrested in Kalibo, Aklan by members of the Interpol at the National Bureau of Investigation. He was released after the Manila denied the US government’s extradition plea in 2007.
The Philippine appeals court said the US failed to present evidence to support its conspiracy claim against Tasa.
“(T)he petitioner failed to submit any statement from either of the two convicts or from any other person with personal knowledge of Tasa’s participation in the crime,” it said.
Instead, the US simply offered the transcripts of testimonies of witnesses Timmra Nakamura and Michel Nakamura Hartley, which the Manila RTC said were mere hearsay.
“Our examination of the records failed to yield any cogent reason which would warrant a conclusion different from that reached by the extradition court,” the Court of Appeals said.
This article was written by Tetch Torres and published by Inquirer.net on August 25, 2011.
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