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‘Tele-trial’ of terror suspects okayed

The Supreme Court has approved the use of video conferencing to accept testimony from suspected terrorists, so they will not have to appear in person before the courts.

In the last en banc session presided over by Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro before her retirement on Oct. 10, the Court adopted video conferencing to allow jailed persons with terrorism-related cases to face the courts from their detention cells.

A pilot test of the new system, which will be used by the Court in Davao City, can also be used for detainees with grave medical conditions.

The Court said the constitutional rights of the accused will be protected through procedural safeguards in the implementing rules to be released by the Office of the Court Administrator.

“In order to ensure that the accused’s constitutional rights are adequately protected, the counsel of the accused shall be present with the accused in the same designated room in the jail facility throughout the duration of the tele-hearing,” the Court Administrator said.

The latest measure adopted by the judiciary was approved specifically upon request of Davao City Jail Warden Supt. Grace Taculin, who cited security threats in the transportation of “high-risk detainees” with terrorism cases and with contagious diseases to the courts.

The Bureau of Jail Management of Penology in Davao City manages three city jails with a total population of about 4,000 detainees.

Hundreds of arrested members of Maute, Abu Sayaff, New People’s Army and Moro Islamic Liberation Front are currently detained in Davao jails.

Topics: Supreme Court , Teresita Leonardo-de Castro , Office of the Court Administrator
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