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5 Pinoy tourists on trial for attempted pickpocketing

11 February 2019

The five Filipino tourists are being tried at District Court

By Vir B. Lumicao

Five Filipino tourists who allegedly tried but failed to pick the wallet of a Korean female tourist in Central 10 months ago stood trial at the District Court on Feb 11, after pleading not guilty to a charge of attempted theft.

Defendants Zenaida Aviles, Rasim Linambos, Arlene Gerodias, Manuelito Camacho and Delia Tagalo remain in custody nearly 11 months since they were arrested following the botched theft on Apr 24 last year.

Judge David Dufton had to call for a break in the hearing twice during the morning session as four of the defendants shifted their language of choice from Cebuano to Tagalog.

Initially, only Aviles and Linambos chose to answer in Tagalog during the trial, while the rest said they preferred Cebuano. But after the charges were read to Aviles and Linambos, the fifth defendant, Tagalo, also asked to use Tagalog.

Dufton called for a break which lasted more than 20 minutes so the lawyers could consult their clients on the language and seating arrangement changes.

After the language issue was settled, another snag came up when some changes had to be made in the admitted facts. The judge had to give the court another recess.

The first witness called was a police officer in plain clothes who said he tailed the suspects after he observed them acting suspiciously in the MTR station in Wanchai on Apr 24 last year.

He followed them until they exited in Central, walked around World-Wide House and re-entered the station where they spotted their alleged victim, the Korean woman, at the concourse.

They followed the victim down an escalator and sandwiched her. When they got to the bottom of the escalator, two of the defendants in front of the victim suddenly stopped.

The officer said he saw Aviles dip her hand into the bag of the victim and pull out her wallet, but it was chained to the bag. The officer arrested Aviles and immediately radioed his team, who arrested the other suspects separately.

The prosecutor said eight witnesses, all officers who were either part of the arresting team or investigators of the defendants, are expected to give evidence.

But the Korean victim, who was described as a “substantial witness,” declined to testify.

Dufton was adamant to get the trial started on Monday, telling one of the defense lawyers who had suggested an adjournment that it would mean a further delay of four months.

The trial continues.  

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