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Napoles gets up to 40 years on serious illegal detention raps

(UPDATED 6:30 P.M.) The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 on Tuesday sentenced businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to reclusion perpetua, or 20 years and one day up to 40 years in jail, after she was found guilty of serious illegal detention.

Napoles was also ordered to pay P50,000 in moral damages and another P50,000 in civil damages.

Napoles and her brother Reynald Jojo Lim were accused of detaining their cousin and her former employee Benhur Luy for three months.

Lim, on the other hand, remains at large and was never arraigned.

Luy, who was rescued in March 2013, was allegedly detained after Napoles found out that he secured a P5.5-million loan using her name and without her authorization. Napoles has also accused Luy of stealing P300,000 that he was supposed to deposit to her account.

Luy's camp, however, insisted that he was taken against his will so he would not be able to spill the beans on Napoles' anomalous transactions.

These consisted of allegedly diverting P10 billion from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers through her non-existent foundations for alleged ghost projects.

Luy went on to become the primary whistleblower and the government star witness in the graft and plunder cases filed against Napoles before the Sandiganbayan.

Napoles, along with several lawmakers, are facing charges for allegedly conspiring with each other to defraud the government of millions in public funds.

Among those who were charged with plunder and are now detained in connection with the pork barrel scam are senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada.

Napoles and Lim were ordered arrested in August of 2013 over the illegal detention case.

The two went into hiding but two weeks later, Napoles surrendered to President Aquino hours after he announced a P10-million reward for any information leading to her arrest.

Napoles to appeal decision

Meanwhile, Napoles' lawyers said they will appeal the decision in the Court of Appeals. 
"We have to appeal kasi there are several points in the decision that we do not agree with. It's a matter of how the judge appreciated our evidence. There are so many things there that for me are so questionable," Atty. Bruce Rivera said in an interview after the promulgation. 
Rivera remained confident that a higher court could reverse the ruling against his client. 
"Maybe the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court will appreciate [our evidence] better. Marami namang convictions na nare-reverse," he said. 
Rivera added that his client expected the conviction to a degree, in part due to her notoriety as the alleged brains of the pork barrel scam. 
"Initially, hindi niya ma-intindihan kasi 'di naman siya lawyer, but we already told her that it's a conviction and she said it's okay. Maybe she also expected it because of the political backlash and the pressure exerted on certain people. Nai-intindihan niya but of course she doesn't agree. Kasi hindi naman totoo 'yun," Rivera said. —NB, GMA News