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Pardoned Kuwait death row inmate returns to Philippines

KUWAIT: A Filipino man sentenced to death in Kuwait for murdering his partner has been freed in an Amiri pardon and returned to the Philippines. Philippine Embassy in Kuwait Chargé d’Affaires and Consul General Mohd. Noordin Pendosina N. Lomondot sent off Bienvenido Espino at the Kuwait International Airport on 30 August 2020-13 years since he was detained at the Central Jail in Sulaibiya, and 12 years since the Philippine government first sought the Amiri pardon for the convicted Filipino. The Embassy facilitated Espino’s repatriation back to the Philippines.

Espino was sentenced to death by hanging in 2008 but was granted by His Highness The Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. “On behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, my deepest and most profound gratitude goes to His Highness the Amir for granting clemency to OFW Bienvenido Espino, and for giving our kababayan a chance to start a new life in the Philippines,” Chargé d’Affaires Lomondot said.

“The Philippine government, through the Embassy, had been asking the Kuwaiti government to pardon OFW Espino. No less than then-Presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno S. Aquino III personally appealed to His Highness the Amir to grant clemency to OFW Espino. 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,” the Chargé d’Affaires further said.

In May 2008, the Kuwaiti Court of First Instance found Espino guilty of the murder of his Filipina partner, Jhias Gumapac in October 30, 2007, near a bakery in Salmiya. Espino stabbed Gumapac, 30, 33 times over a laptop given to her as collateral for money borrowed by Espino. The decision was upheld by the Kuwaiti Court of Appeals in January 2009, and by the Kuwait Court of Cassation in November 2009.

However, Espino received a ‘tanazul’ or letter of forgiveness from the family of his late Filipina partner after settling the blood money for the crime. The issuance of a tanazul led to the commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment in 2013. He received the Amiri pardon during the recently-concluded Eid Al-Adha season, along with other Filipino detainees at the Central Jail.

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