>> When Molly Phinney-Baskette spent Thanksgiving last year with her brother, she didn't know it would be their last together. But less than two weeks later, she was told Jesse Phinney, an American cameraman and filmmaker, hanged himself with a belt in the bathroom of a detention facility where he was being held in the Philippines one day after being arrested on suspicion of violating human trafficking and child abuse laws.
>> Within the first couple hours, I said wait a minute, they said he hung himself with his belt. Jessie didn't wear a belt, ever.>> Suspecting foul play, Molly and her family hired a US based pathologist for a second autopsy. Reuters corespondent Nathan Lane.>> So the second autopsy found several markings on his body, and the circumstances to be inconsistent with a suicidal hanging.
Just to highlight a few, they found two ligature marks on his neck, whereas in a typical suicidal hanging you'll only see one. They also found deep bruising caused by blunt force trauma on various parts of his body.>> That bruising, according to the autopsy, caused within three to four hours of his death, a period he was in police custody.
The pathologist also pointed to a picture of Phinney when he was arrested, that showed he was not wearing a belt. Phinney had been living on and off in the Philippines seaside resort destination of Cebu during President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, which critics say has led to the deaths of thousands of small-time drug users and dealers in execution style killings by law enforcement.
While acknowledging she had no proof, Phinney's sister Molly Phinney-Baskette, told Reuters she feared that a culture of widespread extrajudicial killing was a contributing factor in his death. Asked about the family's concerns, a presidential spokesperson told Reuters that proper procedures would be observed in the conduct of the probe.
According to a report by the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine counterpart to the FBI, the NBI had been tracking Phinney since December 2016 after an official complaint from Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale. The report that alleged Phinney sometimes had minors sleep at his home, took pictures of them, and gave them gifts.
Molly said she believes her brother was innocent.>> I can understand why the NBI, when they picked him up, were more likely to see him as guilty. And yet, he deserved due process. Due process that he did not receive.>> Molly says the family has hired an investigator to look into Phinney's death.
The NBI's regional director in Cebu says the local police is conducting its own investigation.