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Fatal stabbing in San Sebastian campus caught on CCTV

December 24, 2009 4:00am
Proving yet again its potential as an effective tool for solving crimes, a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera caught the fatal stabbing of a 20-year old college student inside a Manila school campus in a violent confrontation with two other students.

Cromwell Duka Jr., a second year business management student at San Sebastian College, sustained four stab wounds in the chest and was declared dead on arrival at the Mary Chiles Hospital last Friday December 18.

In a report by JP Soriano on GMA News’ “24 Oras," the CCTV footage showed the victim and the suspect Romeo Ephraim Lim, a third year hotel and restaurant management student, engage in a brief fight in the school cafeteria, along with a third unidentified student. The three went back to their respective seats, but the bloodied Duka collapsed a few seconds after.

The school guard on duty was able to nab Lim, but police are still looking for the unidentified student. The bladed weapon which was used to stab the victim was also recovered from Lim.

Manila Police District Chief Inspector Erwin Margarejo said that a personal grudge between the victim and the suspect may have been the motive for the killing, adding that the two do not appear to be from rival school fraternities.

Lim denied stabbing the victim, saying he did kick Duka in defense when the latter also physically attacked him, although it was clear from the video that Lim and his companion approached the victim and not the other way around.

'Downgrading murder to homicide is unfair'

Relatives of Duka called on authorities for justice for the death of Duka, whom they described to be a kind son who seldom figured in a fight.

“To whomever will handle this case, I hope you’ll empathize with the grief I am feeling now as a father who lost a very loving son," the victim’s father said in the report.

The suspect refused to comment on the matter when reached by GMA News' Soriano at the MPD jail. School officials were also unavailable for comment as school offices are closed for the holidays.

The victim’s sister, Sharon, meanwhile disclosed in an interview with GMANews.TV that the victim is now out on bail as the crime was downgraded from murder to homicide.

“I don’t think (downgrading the crime) is fair… The suspect was ready to kill based on the CCTV (footage). He (Lim) was armed and my brother had four stab wounds," she explained.

She added that school officials have been visiting Duka’s wake at San Isidro Parish Church to condole with the family, but they have yet to discuss how the school plans to address the tragic incident.

Sharon said the family’s lawyer is preparing to appeal to bring the case back to murder.

The police also reminded school authorities to be more stringent in their security measures so that deadly weapons are not brought inside school campuses.

CCTV as crime deterrent

The use of CCTVs worldwide as a means for crime deterrence has been prevalent in the last two decades.

Since the start of 2009, major cities in the country have also turned to CCTV systems in strategic areas, like transportation terminals, major thoroughfares, banks, churches, and even police stations, to monitor possible criminal activities.

The London police took only days to solve city bombings in 2005 after three of the four suspects were caught on camera. Nearer home and more recently, a CCTV camera also recorded the robbery staged by armed men in in Greenbelt 5 October this year.

A study by the British Home Office three years ago, however, showed that the use of CCTV cameras had not significantly reduced crimes, largely because it would still need people to man the cameras over long periods of time, so that footage can only be useful after a crime has already been committed. - JV, GMANews.TV
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