Alleged sex predator Peter Scully to escape Philippines death penalty if convicted
People ride past the Cagayan De Oro City Jail where n man Peter Scully is being held. Peter Scully has been charged with child sex abuse and human trafficking crimes. Cagayan De Oro, Mindanao Island, Philippines. 19th September, 2016. Photo: Kate Geraghty Photo: Kate GeraghtyAlleged n child sex predator Peter Scully will escape the death penalty if convicted despite what police say were the most shocking cases of child murder, torture and abuse they have ever seen in the Philippines.
Lawmakers have excluded Scully’s alleged crimes from a death penalty bill that has passed in the country’s parliament 216 votes to 54.
The bill reintroduces the death penalty which was abolished in 2006 but only for eight heinous drug-related offences.
Prominent politicians in Manila and prosecutors had argued for the bill to cover offences Scully faces, including directing “dark web” videos that showed horrific acts to children and babies.
Senior police officers and prosecutors wept when they viewed one video called ‘Daisy’s Destruction’ that Scully allegedly sold on the internet showing an 18-month-old girl being sexually assaulted while being tied upside down by the legs.
Scully is also alleged to have sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl before strangling her and burying her body in a grave under a house he was renting.
Lawmakers supporting Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly crackdown on drugs agreed to drop the crimes of rape, treason and plunder from the list of those punishable by death to allow smoother passage of the bill through parliament.
Capital punishment is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church, the most influential institution in the Philippines.
Pantaleon Alvarez, the speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives, last month cited Scully’s case while arguing against watering down the legislation.
“Have you watched the news about the paedophile? If you were in that situation, would you have wanted this kind of person alive ??? even though they abused a one-year-old child?” he said.
Ruby Malanog, one of two lawyers prosecuting Scully, told Fairfax Media that the alleged acts were “the most devastating thing I have ever seen.”
“I cried when I was watching them ??? in fact I feel like crying just now while talking about it,” she said.
The bill will now go to the Senate for final approval while opposition lawmakers have said they will challenge it in the Supreme Court.
But the maximum penalty that 53-year-old Scully can now receive is multiple terms of life imprisonment at the conclusion of his trial in a court in the southern Philippines that is expected to take years before reaching a verdict.
Scully is contesting 75 charges, including human trafficking, putting his alleged victims through the ordeal of testifying in court, despite repeatedly tell Philippine media he was “remorseful” for what he had done to children.
Eight girl victims up to the age of 13 at the time of the offences are being held in witness protection.
Social workers say they are deeply traumatised.
Scully, a former Melbourne businessman, fled in 2011 to escape fraud charges.
According to police he became a cyber child-porn kingpin in the Philippines, selling videos to internet clients around the world for $10,000.
Videos seized by police allegedly showed Scully abusing children for his own self gratification.
He allegedly kept two teenage girls hostage for weeks and tortured and raped them before making them dig their own graves.
The girls managed to escape, police say.
Philippine authorities said in January they suspected Scully had been running his cyber-pornography business from his jail cell, prompting a police investigation.
Officers at the jail on the outskirts of the city of Cagayan de Oro told Fairfax Media last year that Scully was a troublesome prisoner who often demanded special privileges, including made-to-order meals and a mobile phone.
Appearing in court wearing a yellow prison T-shirt and runners, Scully refused to comment to Fairfax Media but laughed and joked with other prisoners.
Amnesty International described the restoration of the death penalty as a “dangerous path in flagrant violation” of the Philippines’ international legal obligations.
President Duterte’s majority coalition pushed to restore it as part of his drugs crackdown has left almost 8,000 people dead, many of them from what human rights groups describe as extra-judicial killings.
“The idea that the death penalty will rid the country of drugs is simply wrong,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty’s International director for south-east Asia and the Pacific.
“The Senate is now the Philippines’ last real hope of upholding its international obligations and rescuing the country from this backward step.”