People v Agbulos; G.R. No. 73875; 18 May 1993; 232 SCRA 196

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Accused-appellant was charged with the crime of forcible abduction with rape. He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment. Due to his repeated failure to appear at the hearings, the defense rested its case after adopting the testimony of prosecution witnesses as evidence for the accused. The trial court found him guilty.

Whether or not trial in absentia is valid.

YES. The right to be present at one’s trial may now be waived except only at that stage where the prosecution intends to present witnesses who will identify the accused. The defendant’s escape will be considered a waiver of this right and the inability of the court to notify him of the subsequent hearings will not prevent it from continuing with his trial. He will be deemed to have received due notice. The same fact of his escape will make his failure to appear unjustified because he has, by escaping, placed himself beyond the pale, and protection, of the law.

Appeal is DISMISSED.

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