Fugitive senator back as Philippines drops warrant

AP News
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Posted: Mar 26, 2011 5:04 AM
Fugitive senator back as Philippines drops warrant

A Philippine senator who fled double murder charges more than a year ago returned to the country on Saturday after a court voided the arrest warrant against him, police said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson arrived in central Cebu city from Hong Kong and planned to fly on to Manila later Saturday, national police spokesman Agrimero Cruz said.

Lacson was charged with the killings of high-profile publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver in 2000. He has denied involvement.

Lacson, a former national police chief, was one of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's staunchest critics. He left for Hong Kong on Jan. 5, 2010, and in a statement a month later said he was a victim of an alleged conspiracy involving Arroyo and feared for his life in the Philippines.

The Court of Appeals ruled last month that there was no probable cause for the arrest warrant and said the main witness against him _ one of his former police deputies _ was unreliable. The trial court's options could include ordering a reinvestigation or dismissing the case on a motion by Lacson's lawyers.

Dacer's U.S.-based daughters have sued Lacson and ex-President Joseph Estrada in San Francisco for alleged complicity in the murder under a U.S. law that allows federal courts to consider accusations of human rights abuses committed outside the United States.

Estrada has denied any involvement in the killings.

Dacer represented a number of top political figures.

He and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, were abducted from a Manila street and were later found strangled and burned. Investigators identified their corpses using dental records.

The reasons for the murders remain a subject of speculation.