Pardoned by Kuwait, Filipino worker on death row finally returns home

  • 1 month ago
Pardoned by Kuwait, Filipino worker on death row finally returns home

A Filipino migrant worker who was sentenced to death for the murder of his partner 12 years ago has returned to the Philippines after being granted clemency by Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, officials said on Saturday.

Bienvenido Espino was among 314 Filipinos on board a chartered flight on Aug. 30 arranged by the Philippine government for those wishing to return home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“On behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte, my deepest and most profound gratitude goes to his highness for granting clemency to Bienvenido Espino, and for giving our kababayan (countryman) a chance to start a new life in the Philippines,” Mohammed Noordin Pendosina Lomondot, the chargé d’affaires and consul general at the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, said in a statement after seeing Espino off at the Gulf state’s international airport.

Espino had spent 13 years in Kuwait's Sulaibiya Central Jail for the killing of a fellow Filipino worker in October 2007 and, according to Lomondot, the Philippines government had been working tirelessly to save him from the gallows by asking the Kuwaiti government for clemency.

“No less than then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno S. Aquino III personally appealed to his highness to grant clemency to Espino,” Lomondot added. “Even after his death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in 2013, the Philippine government remained persistent in appealing for the Amir’s pardon, through our letters to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

 

In May 2008, the Kuwaiti Court of First Instance found Espino guilty of murder and sentenced him to death by hanging. According to reports, the victim was stabbed 33 times following an altercation with Espino.

Former death row convict Bienvenido Espino was among 314 Filipinos on board a chartered flight on Aug. 30 arranged by the Philippine government for those wishing to return home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Espino’s death sentence was upheld by the Kuwaiti Court of Appeals in Jan. 2009 and by the Kuwait Court of Cassation in November the same year.

However, he received a “tanazul,” or letter of forgiveness, from the family of his victim after settling the blood money for the crime. The issue of a tanazul led to the commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment in 2013.

He eventually received the pardon during Eid Al-Adha along with other Filipino detainees at Sulaibiya Central Jail.

In his message to Espino, Lomondot said: “I hope that Espino will carry with him the experiences and lessons of the past as he starts a new life in the Philippines. I wish him well in his future endeavors.”

 

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