Norwegian, fiancée released from jail - Cebu Circle | Cebu City, Philippines

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Norwegian, fiancée released from jail

02/28/2011 - CEBU CITY -- The Norwegian national and his fiancée who were accused in the kidnapping and killing of a six-year-old girl in Cebu walked out of prison Monday afternoon.

Sven Erik Berger and Karen Esdrelon were freed after the Provincial Prosecutor's Office dismissed Monday the special complex crime of kidnapping with homicide charges filed against them by the Cebu Provincial Police Office.

The two were arrested last February 12 while they were about to board a flight to Hong Kong at the Mactan Cebu International Airport. Police, based on witnesses' accounts, tagged them as suspects in the murder of Ellah Joy Pique.

The arrest was conducted without a warrant.

In dyLA radio interview Monday, Esdrelon said they are confident from the "very start" that the case will be dismissed.

Assistant Provincial Prosecutors Marlon Atillo and Marvin dela Peña, in their joint resolution, said the complaint lacked probable cause.

According to witnesses, Ellah Joy, 6, was abducted from outside a public school in Minglanilla, Cebu past 4 p.m. of February 8. The town lies more than 15 kilometers south of this city.

The couple said it was impossible for them to kidnap the girl in the afternoon of February 8 in Calajo-an, Minglanilla because their "movement was only confined" at the Norwegian School and the Waterfront Hotel in this city when the alleged crime was committed.

Berger and Esdrelon earlier presented to authorities documents to prove their innocence.

At least 14 photographs, captured from the footage of the Waterfront Hotel's security cameras, were submitted to Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

The first two photos show the couple entering the hotel at 4:44 p.m. last February 8, bringing their bags. At 4:45 p.m., they were registering at the front desk. Each photo bears a date and time stamp.

The two also outlined in their counter-affidavit their itinerary from February 7, the day Berger arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport, until the afternoon of February 9, when they reportedly went to Esdrelon's house in Tuburan, Cebu. They attached in their affidavits certifications from the Norwegian School and the Waterfront Hotel.

National Bureau of Investigation-Central Visayas Director Edward Villarta earlier said that the police were under pressure to file complaint because they could not hold the suspects beyond 36 hours without doing so.

The NBI and police assured that they will continue to investigate the case of the six-year-old girl (Sun Star)

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