DOJ orders probe on flight attendant Dacera’s death

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 8) - Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a separate probe on the controversial death of flight attendant Christine Dacera.

Department Order No. 006 dated Jan.7, a copy of which was released to media on Friday, also tasks the NBI to file appropriate charges against persons involved in the case.

NBI Officer-in-Charge Eric Distor was directed to submit reports within ten days and periodically thereafter to Guevarra on the progress of the investigation.

Gueverra earlier ordered the NBI to help the Philippine National Police in the medical examination, amid conflicting reports on her death. A police official initially noted that she appeared to have been raped, while an autopsy report said she died from aneurysm.

DOJ Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento told CNN Philippines on Thursday that the case is not closed or dismissed, saying that the complaints filed against the respondents were “premature.”

Three of the 11 respondents in the case were taken into police custody on Monday. They were released on Wednesday after the Makati City Prosecutor's Office noted that more evidence is needed to determine if the case was a rape-slay.

Other friends of Decera who were also tagged as respondents on Thursday publicly denied the allegations against them.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra said the initial investigation by the Makati City Police Office was not “thorough enough,” prompting the Makati City prosecutor to release the respondents.

“From DOJ’s viewpoint, the case build-up will be faster if NBI acts independently,” he said.

A preliminary investigation by the city prosecutors is set for January 13.

“The longer it takes to examine the remains of the deceased and gather pieces of other evidence, the more difficult it becomes to establish the true cause of her death and identify any person liable thereof, if a crime was indeed committed,” said Guevarra.

He said a precautionary hold departure order is not yet applicable for the respondents for now.

He explained that prosecutors could only apply for such order if a crime has been established and it is likely that the respondents would leave the country.