The trial proper finally begins on March 29 against Mary Jane Veloso’s recruiters.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
BALOC, Nueva Ecija – The Regional Trial Court of Sto. Domingo here has terminated its pre-trial hearing today, March 18, against the recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina in death row in Indonesia.
The trial proper begins on March 29 against accused Maria Kristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao who are charged with qualified human trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa filed by Mary Jane and her family. The prosecution is set to present their first witness Maritess Laurente, Mary Jane’s elder sister.
“I am very nervous, but at the same time, excited to take the witness stand. I am looking forward to refuting the lies they said in their affidavit,” Laurente told Bulatlat after the hearing.
The prosecution is set to present 15 witnesses while the defense will present 17. Both camps have agreed to trim down the numbers of witnesses, especially those whose testimony would only serve to corroborate others.
Meanwhile, Judge Nelson Tribianna called on to the media to report fairly on the case, reacting to an editorial cartoon of a national daily depicting him to be “sleeping” on the case.
Both the public and private prosecutors said they never issued a statement that would insinuate such.
However, private counsels have long deplored the seeming delaying tactics of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) who is representing the two accused.
Veloso’s scheduled execution last year was stayed at dawn of April 29 to give way to the court proceedings in the Philippines. Apart from the cases filed by Mary Jane and her family, the accused are also facing large-scale and syndicated illegal trafficking from three other complainants whom Sergio and Lacanilao attempted to recruit.