Pampanga court convicts 2 over 2016 kidnap-slay of Korean businessman

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 7) — A Pampanga court has convicted two people — a policeman and a former agent of the National Bureau of Investigation -- for their participation in the kidnapping and gruesome killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo in 2016.

In a June 6 decision, Regional Trial Court Branch 60 of Angeles City found SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel and Jerry Omlang "guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the special complex crime of Kidnapping with Homicide under Article 267 of the revised Penal Code" and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua. The sentence carries a prison term of up to 40 years, with eligibility for pardon after 30 years.

Jee's high-profile case prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the Philippine National Police’s involvement in his deadly war on drugs, but he later reinstated the PNP to the anti-drug campaign. Duterte also apologized to the South Korean government and Jee’s family.

The court said a total of ₱350,000 in damages should be paid to Jee's heirs "and that an interest shall be imposed on all damages awarded at the legal rate of 6% per annum from the date of finality of the Decision until fully paid."

Sta. Isabel and Omlang were also found guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua for those crimes too.

Both were also found guilty for carnapping and were sentenced to 22 to 25 years in prison.

PSupt Rafael Dumlao, the supposed mastermind behind Jee's abduction and slay, was acquitted as the court said prosecution was unable to prove he was guilty beyond reasonable doubt in all three cases.

Jee, 53, was taken by the suspects in October 2016 from his home in Pampanga on charges that he was involved in trading illegal drugs.

Investigators said Jee was strangled to death in Camp Crame and his body was cremated at a funeral parlor owned by a former police official. A witness earlier said his ashes were flushed down a toilet.