MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice on Friday reopened the criminal probe into the fatal hazing of Aegis Juris Fraternity neophyte Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
Aegis Juris Fraternity member Mark Ventura, now a state witness, appeared before the panel of prosecutors to swear in an affidavit earlier submitted to the DOJ's Witness Protection Program.
Ventura, in October last year, admitted to taking part in the initiation rites that prosecutors say led to Castillo's death.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, in a press conference on October 24, said that Ventura went to the DOJ and detailed to him what transpired during Castillo's “final rites”.
Citing Ventura's narration, Aguirre said that Castillo was punched and paddled by the fraternity members until he collapsed at around 5:00 a.m.
Following his testimony, the DOJ placed Ventura under the Witness Protection Program.
The DOJ panel, however, only received Ventura's sworn testimony on January 3.
This prompted state prosecutors to reopen the anti-hazing and murder case two months since the preliminary investigation on the case was terminated.
The state prosecutors said that details in Ventura's affidavit are crucial in ruling on the case.
The panel gave the respondents until January 22 to submit their pleading, in answer to Ventura's affidavit.
The prosecutors stressed that the hearing on the 22nd is the last for the case.
A complaint of murder, anti-hazing, robbery, and perjury have been filed against several members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.
Castillo was a 22-year-old freshman law student of the University of Santo Tomas. He was laid to rest at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City on September 27.