Hazing suspect back in Manila, refuses police interrogation

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MANILA police on Tuesday morning rushed to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to meet Ralph Trangia but failed to convince the suspect in the hazing murder of a UST freshman law student to undergo interrogation.

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Senior Insp. Rommel Anicete, chief of the homicide section of the Manila Police District (MPD), said Trangia refused to give his testimony on what happened during the Aegis Juris Fraternity hazing rites on September 17, which led to the death of 22-year-old Horacio “Atio” Castillo 3rd.

BACK TO FACE THE MUSIC Ralph Trangia follows his mother Rosemarie and an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Mother and son were charged for the hazing death of Horatio “Atio” Castillo 3rd. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO

“It has no effect to the case we filed,” said Anicete.

Trangia was mum when he arrived with his mother Rosemarie from the United States at 11:41 a.m. on Tuesday, via Eva Air Flight 271.

Trangia, said to be the sergeant at arms of the UST law fraternity, is one of the 18 suspects originally charged by the MPD for the death of Castillo.

His father Antonio was included in the charges because he was the registered owner of the red Mitsubishi pickup vehicle that brought Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital from the fraternity library in the morning of September 17, Sunday.

Rosemarie Trangia was also charged with obstruction of justice for helping her son flee to the United States via Taiwan following the hazing death.

MPD spokesman Supt. Erwin Margarejo, in a hastily called news conference, said Anicete offered to escort the Trangia family from the airport to their residence but was declined.

“We cannot force him to follow what we asked but that is okay. Anyway, the criminal case is now with the Justice department,” the Manila police spokesman said.

‘Trangia had a return ticket’

Ralph Trangia’s lawyer on Tuesday said his client had voluntarily returned to the country to face the allegations as well as to prove his innocence.

Rowell Ilagan said the Trangias intended to return to the country when they left for the United States on September 19.

“When they purchased the (plane) ticket, they have the return ticket. So, the purchase of the ticket coupled with the actual return today is actually a clear manifestation that they want to voluntary submit themselves to the jurisdiction of our legal process,” Ilagan told reporters.

Asked why Trangia left for the US in the first place, the lawyer replied: “Those matters will be threshed out during the preliminary investigation. We cannot really say at this moment. We don’t want to influence directly the decision of the prosecutors.”

There are no plans yet for the Trangias to meet Castillo’s parents.

“In the meantime, we want the safety and security of our client,” Ilagan said.

Potential witness?

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd said Ralph Trangia could be a “potential witness,” depending on what he would tell the investigators.

“While he may be a suspect as of the moment, depending on what he will tell our investigators, he could be a potential witness. And for this reason, the DoJ offers to him and to his family, the protection of our Witness Protection Program,” Aguirre said.

“I encourage Mr. Trangia and his family to fully cooperate and tell the truth and, as a future lawyer, to work for justice. And I again reiterate the DoJ’s invitation to anyone who knows anything about what happened to Mr. Atio Castillo to come forward and to tell the truth,” he added.

Aguirre on Monday announced Trangia’s return, saying the US Department of Homeland Security had assisted the Philippine government in locating him.

with  BENJAMIN L. VERGARA, CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND ASHLEY JOSE

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