Police continues filing raps against Berger, girlfriend

Posted on February 17, 2011


by Ador Vincent Mayol, Candeze R. Mongaya and Gabriel C. Bonjoc

THE Cebu provincial police  frce considers their work done in the kidnap-murder case of Ellah Joy Pique.

Now it’s up to the prosecutors to finish it, they said.Supt. Eduardo Saavedra, deputy director of administration of the Cebu Provincial Police Office  (CPPO), said while they welcome the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) entry in the case, they have stopped searching for other suspects in the  crime.

In yesterday’s monthly PNP forum, Saavedra said the testimonies of three child witnesses are “strong enough” to warrant filing of charges against suspects Sven Erik Berger and Karen Castro Esdrelon.

This was seconded by the Investigation Detection and Management Bureau (IDMB).Senior Supt. Patrocinio Comendador, IDMB chief of the the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said while this isn’t the first time he met “conflicting inquiries” between the police and NBI, it’s the prosecutor who  will decide whether there is probable cause of guilt.

“If we release the suspects now and discount the testimonies of the witnesses, what will the public say about the police?” Saavedra said.

The NBI earlier followed the itinerary cited by Berger and Esdrelon before  and during the time of Ellah Joy’s kidnap-murder.

NBI agents talked with staff of the Norwegian Language School in barangay Lahug, Cebu City, where the 24-year-old Esdrelon, a registered nurse, enrolled at 3:30 p.m of Feb. 8, the date of Ellah Joy’s disappearance.

They also obtained confirmation from the management on the security videotapes of the Waterfront Hotel, which showed the couple checking in at 4:40 p.m, nearly the same time that Ellah Joy was supposedly taken by a Caucasian man and his female companion.

Ellah Joy and her classmates went outside outside the Calajo-an Elementary School in Minglanilla town, southern Cebu, when she was invited by a couple to ride in their Mitsubishi Pajero. She went with them despite the protests of her classmates.

Ellah Joy was later found naked and wrapped in a bedsheet and placed in a sack along with some rocks off a cliff in Barili town, a day later.

Both Berger and Esdrelon denied they were responsible for the crime.Charges of kidnapping with homicide and violation of the Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act were filed against the couple.

Esdrelon said they only want to be released and the real perpetrators arrested. She said they will ask the NBI’s help to clear their names.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia confirmed that she was coordinating with the NBI in handling Ellah Joy’s case.

She said the NBI was part of the Provincial Anti-Crime Task Force, which she heads,  along with the police.

In an interview after the Pabahay Caravan forum yesterday, Garcia said she had been receiving reports from the NBI but declined to elaborate saying this would be “premature”.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama also voiced his support for an anticrime task force to handle the Ellah Joy murder case.

He said the agencies can investigate and function independently while pooling their resources and information to arrive at a common resolution on the case.

With reports from Correspondents Chito Aragon, Jhunnex Napallacan, Carmel Loise Matus and Jemarie Jane P. Augusto

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