Sino envoys in Cebu slays sent home to stand trial
A Chinese consular officer and her husband, who allegedly killed two other Chinese diplomats and wounded their consul general in Cebu City, were flown back to China on Friday to stand trial, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Saturday.
Assistant Foreign Secretary Charles Jose, spokesperson for the DFA, said police turned over Li Qingli, 60, and his wife, Consul Guo Jing, to Chinese authorities, who flew them to Xiamen in southeastern China on a chartered flight on Friday night, two days after the shootings in a restaurant in Cebu City.
“The two Chinese suspects left the Philippines last night for Xiamen. [They are now] under the custody of the Chinese authorities,” Jose said.
Police said the consul’s husband had been accused of killing Deputy Consul Sun Shan and consulate finance officer Hui Li and wounding Consul General Song Ronghua inside a private room at Lighthouse Restaurant on General Maxilom Avenue, Cebu City, at lunchtime on Wednesday.
Jose said the Chinese government had invoked diplomatic immunity for the couple under the 1961 Geneva Convention and a 2009 bilateral accord between China and the Philippines.
“They will be tried under Chinese law,” Jose said. “[The Chinese authorities] asked for help, so the evidence obtained by the [Philippine National Police] will be shared with them.”
The Chinese Embassy in Manila has yet to issue a statement about the incident. The embassy described the couple as accredited diplomats, according to Jose.
Jose said the DFA had been assured that the case of the diplomats will be dealt with by the Chinese authorities according to Chinese laws.
China has the death penalty, while the Philippines does not.
Chief Supt. Prudencio Tom Bañas, Central Visayas police director, said the couple had not issued any statement that could explain the motive for the shootings partly because they could not speak English.
The victims and the suspects were attending a birthday lunch in a private room at Lighthouse when the shootings occurred, Bañas said.
Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, a police spokesperson in Cebu City, said a member of the restaurant staff heard arguments “over financial matters” before shots were fired.
Video from the restaurant’s security camera showed Li approaching and shooting Song and Sun. Hui ran out of the room but Li followed and shot her.
Bañas said the police in Cebu handed over the suspects to DFA and China representatives on Friday night.
“I was informed they have already been flown out to China,” Bañas said.
Police are investigating how Li had acquired the .45-cal. Colt Defender he used in the shootings.
A police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said on Thursday that it was easy to acquire a firearm in Cebu because the city had a large cottage industry for homemade guns.
It is unclear, however, whether Li’s Colt Defender is a clone of the highly reliable concealed-carry 1911 made by the US gunmaker Colt’s Manufacturing Co., which sells its products only to the US government.
Investigators have found that the serial number of Li’s Colt Defender, 126238, appears on another Colt Defender owned by Theodore Calavera of Valenzuela City in Metro Manila.
Calavera said he sold his handgun to a certain Mago, from whom police recovered the pistol on Thursday and found that its license had expired.
Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, spokesperson for the PNP, said Calavera appeared to have violated gun rules by selling his pistol to Mago without clearing it with the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office.
Remaining a puzzle is how the serial number of Calavera’s Colt Defender has been duplicated on Li’s handgun. With reports from AP and AFP
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