Today CPJ launched its 2009
Global Impunity Index in
Elisabeth Witchel: Is it true you knew Marlene? Can you tell me a little about how you came to represent the family?
Nena Santos: Prior to her death she was an old friend. I am godmother to her two children and we were in contact with each other often. She would ask about what she was investigating.
EW: When did you step in?
NS: Immediately after [the shooting] I got a call from her daughter. She said her mother was shot. I assisted in the investigation, helping prepare the evidence and talking to the CID [Criminal Investigative Division] of the PNP [Philippines National Police] about who are the suspects.
I should point out one thing.
EW: What are some the obstacles the prosecution of this case has faced?
NS: For the assassins, we were able to proceed at a fast pace and succeeded in convictions in six months. But in the cases of the masterminds, we've encountered legal maneuvering on the side of the accused. Generally, if the evidence is strong, the accused will use all legal means possible to avoid prosecution.
EW: What is your biggest concern about the case?
NS: These delays will work in the favor of the accused. We have witnesses who are old and sickly. If the witnesses are exhausted and tired of waiting; if they are influenced by the accused or die ahead of the prosecution it will weaken he case.
EW: Why do you think Marlene was killed?
NS: To silence Marlene. She was an insider. She knew a lot of information and had evidence of irregularities in the Department of Agriculture.
EW: If the masterminds are convicted, this will be landmark case. How do you think you will feel?
NS: We will feel that justice
was served and that Marlene's death will be vindicated. This is the only case
where there could be the prosecution of a mastermind. This would set the bar
for other killings in the