DAVAO CITY, Philippines – There are signs of torture and use of multiple weapons in the murder of peasant advocate Randall Echanis, an autopsy report revealed.
Echanis, 72, chairperson of AnakPawis, was found murdered in his apartment on August 10 with a neighbor. His family and colleagues requested an autopsy to determine the nature of his murder.
In an online press conference, renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun explained that the peasant leader was not killed immediately. While torture is not a forensic pathology term, she said the implications are there.
“Mr. Echanis sustained one fatal injury. This was the stab wound at the back which hit his aorta. That killed him at once. However, he had other injuries which were inflicted while he was still alive, and you see the distribution at the back…here you would see that there is a pattern. It implies intent and he was not immediately killed,” Fortun said.
The pathologist said there could three weapons used against the peace consultant, but one stab wound with a bladed weapon caused “intrathoracic hematoma” or fatal bleeding resulting from injuries in the aorta, heart and esophagus.
She did not mention any gunshot wound as previously stated by rights group when they claimed Echani’s body. Fortun did say there was a superficial laceration but no penetrating injury in his head.
“Generally, the head sustained blunt force trauma. I do not know what kind of weapon it was. Something could have hit the head repeatedly,” she said.
Fortun said that she has very limited information on the other victim who was with Echanis, as well as on the crime scene and other investigative findings.
The final autopsy report of Echanis would possibly be released by next week.
The family of Echanis strongly believed that his murder is politically motivated, especially with his work as an activist and peace consultant of the National Democratic of the Philippines (NDFP).
“It is far from a simple crime or robbery being insisted by the police that happened to my husband,” said Echanis’ wife, Erlinda, in a written statement.
Echanis’ lawyer Attorney Raquel Pastores, said that Echanis has experienced harassment and threats particularly after the peace talks between the Duterte administration and the NDFP collapsed.
Echanis had been tagged as a “terrorist” in a proscription case from the Department of Justice in 2016, and has also faced arrests in the past.
“No one else has the motive and capacity to do such thing but the armed forces of the State which is relentless in attacking Ka Randy and other leader activists,” she said in Tagalog.
“What happened to Ka Randy is not acceptable. There should be someone held accountable from the actual perpetrators up to its mastermind,” Erlinda added. (davaotoday.com)