MANILA, Philippines - Saudi Arabia’s Court of Appeals has upheld the death sentence imposed by a general court in Jeddah on three Filipinos involved in what has become known as the Jeddah ‘chop-chop’ killings two years ago, Migrante International said on Saturday.
Migrante said the appellate court released its decision on Sept. 15 affirming the conviction of Edison Gonzales, his brother Rolando, and Eduardo Arcilla.
The court also affirmed the conviction of four others accused of helping cover up the crime: Victoriano Alfonso, Efren Francisco Dumaun, Omar Basilio, and Joel Sinamban.
Migrante said the appellate court increased the penalty against the four accomplices from eight years to 10 years imprisonment and from 1,000 lashes to 1,200 lashes.
Migrante did not mention the source of the information for security reasons. Saudi Arabia’s courts seldom make a public announcement of their verdicts pending disclosure of such to the parties involved.
The accused, who are all languishing at a high-security prison in Jeddah, were accused of killing fellow Filipinos Reno Lumbang, Jeremias Bucod, and Dante Rivero in April 2006.
As reported earlier by the Arab News (www.arabnews.com), citing court records showed by the Philippine Consulate, the killings resulted from a fierce rivalry between Edison Gonzales and Reno Lumbang over gambling operations in Jeddah.
The crime has been tagged as the worst crime ever committed by and against Filipinos in Saudi Arabia.
According to the report, Lumbang and his driver Bucod were killed by the Gonzales brothers and Arcilla in the heat of an argument that arose while they were playing cards in someone's house.
Lumbang and his companions later also killed Dante Rivero to silence a potential witness.
The murder of the three surfaced when police found body parts scattered in garbage bins around the city. Acting on a tip, Jeddah police rounded up more than 80 Filipinos for questioning and ended up charging seven in the triple murder case.
Police reduced the charges against Alfonso, Dumaun, Basilio, and Sinamban after they reportedly admitted their role only in disposing the chopped body parts. Police were able to recover some of the body parts through the help of the four.
DNA samples recovered from the body parts later positively matched the samples taken from the relatives of the victims.
All seven accused are appealing against their sentences, which are actually automatically reviewed by the Court of Cassation.
Migrante has asked the government to provide adequate legal assistance to the seven to ensure that their rights are protected .- GMANews.TV