BANGUI, Ilocos Norte, June 11– “Not guilty”.

This was the joint counter allegation of the four Chinese nationals who were charged with illegal possession of firearms, explosive and violation of the election gun ban during their arraignment held here yesterday at the Regional Trial Court, Branch 19 presided by Judge Rosemarie Ramos.

Aided by their defense lawyer and a hired private interpreter, the four accused foreigners pleaded not guilty to the charges saying that they were innocent of the crime.

Last week, Judge Ramos had reset the scheduled June 6 arraignment when no interpreter who knows Chinese Mandarin appeared before the court.

Police record showed that the accused were identified as Dennis Min Co, Lui Xin Fen, Dang Hoi Yin and Lei Guang, all from China.

The four aboard a car were arrested in a police checkpoint in Brgy. Davila, Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte last May 28. A few minutes earlier, they allegedly created a trouble when one of them threw a beer bottle in a gasoline station prompting a civilian informer to tip off the police. As the responding cops approached, the four fled and a car chase ensued until they were blocked at the checkpoint.

Senior Supt. Jeffrey Gorospe, Ilocos Norte police spokesman, said found inside car of the four were the following:

–three MP5 submachine guns

–two .45 caliber pistols

–a Pietro Beretta pistol

–a .40 caliber rifle

–a 9mm Glock pistol

–eight grenades

–and an improvised explosive.

During yesterday’s arraignment, a crowd including kibitzers flocked to the RTC Bangui building to have an update of the court proceedings. The media had sensationalized the case, hence, the people got interested of its outcome, an observer told the Sentinel.

Under heavy guards, the four accused were escorted back to their detention cells at the Ilocos Norte provincial jail in Laoag City.#