Panel formed to probe complaints vs Lee, Cornejo

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

MANILA -- Three prosecutors have been tasked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to evaluate the complaints filed by Vhong Navarro against those who physically abused him at a condominium unit in Taguig City last January 22.

They are Assistant State Prosecutors Olivia Torrevillas, Hazel Decena-Valdez and Marie Elvira Herrera, Prosecutor General Claro Arellano said in a one-page order on Wednesday.

Eight people including Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee and his sister Bernice were facing charges of serious illegal detention, serious physical injuries, grave threats, grave coercion, illegal arrest and blackmail at the DOJ.

The prosecutors will then conduct a preliminary investigation on the complaints to determine if there is basis to hold a full-blown trial in court.

Navarro claimed he was beaten up by around six to seven men when he visited Cornejo in her condominium unit.

Lee justified his group's actions, saying they saved Cornejo from Navarro's attempt to rape their 22-year-old friend.

But the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it is impossible for Navarro to rape Cornejo since she left the actor in the room and met Lee and his companions at the lobby, citing footage taken by the condominium's closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV).

Still, Cornejo filed a rape case against Navarro before the Taguig City Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday.

The mauling incident gained so much interest from authorities, even prompting Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday to order the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to place the Lee siblings, Cornejo, Ferdinand Guerrero and Zimmer Rance under its lookout list.

Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison issued the lookout bulletin order on Thursday after de Lima granted the request of NBI Director Virgilio Mendez.

An LBO does not stop individuals from leaving the country since it is merely a notice that a person or persons is/are attempting to depart.

De Lima ordered Mison to promptly relay to the Office of the Secretary, DOJ, to the Office of the Prosecutor General and NBI "any pertinent information, especially those tending to indicate that the subject individuals are attempting to leave the country, and in order to obtain updates as to the status of their case and other relevant information that may be the basis for the proper course of action to be taken by the immigration officer."

She also asked Arellano to speed up the resolution of the case.

"If it should be found that there is probable cause to criminally charge the respondents in court, to immediately file the case and obtain warrant for their arrest," the memorandum stated.

Reports said Lee and Cornejo may leave for Singapore on February 6. (Sunnex)

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