Was an arrest warrant for Bill Gates issued by the "Heinous Crimes Court" in the Philippines for "premeditated murder" linked to vaccine roll out? No, that's not true: A legal expert told Lead Stories, "Philippine courts do not have the authority to issue international arrest warrants under the Philippines Rules of Criminal Procedure." The expert says there's no such entity as the Philippines' "Heinous Crimes Court."
The story appeared in an article published by NewsPunch on March 2, 2023, titled "Bill Gates Arrest Warrant Issued in Philippines For 'Premeditated Murder' Linked To Vaccine Roll Out" (archived here), which opened:
A Philippines court has issued an international arrest warrant for Bill Gates, as part of an investigation into the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out in the territory.
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Bill Gates Arrest Warrant Issued in Philippines For 'Premeditated Murder' Linked To Vaccine Roll Out - News Punch
Gates Foundation spox says: "This is all a big misunderstanding"
- The article claims:
The Heinous Crimes Court in Manila issued the order for the arrest of Gates under article 248 of the revised penal code (RPC), which carries a minimum prison term of 20 years and one day.
Lead Stories reached out to Diane Desierto, global affairs professor and faculty director of Notre Dame Law School LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law, who responded via email on March 6, 2023, saying the claim is false:
Philippine courts also do not have the authority to issue international arrest warrants under the Philippines Rules of Criminal Procedure. Arrest warrants can only be served within the territory of the Republic of the Philippines, and, depending on the level of the court issuing the warrant (e.g. regional or municipal), only within said region or municipality.
Desierto explained why the claims about the "Heinous Crimes Court" are false:
No, there is no such thing as a Heinous Crimes Court. Special courts are created under the administrative authority of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, and I have not seen any Supreme Court issuance creating such a court. An example of a special court will be our environmental courts, which were created by designation of the Supreme Court of the Philippines in Administrative Order No. 23-2008.
A "heinous crime court" was abolished in 2004 by the Supreme Court in the Philippines following killings of judges as was reported by PhilStar.com at the time.
There have been no credible media reports regarding Gates' arrest warrant, which would have been international news regarding the well-known billionaire.
The article claimed, "A Gates Foundation spokesperson declined to comment on the arrest warrant on Thursday, telling local radio: 'This is a misunderstanding that we are going to have ironed out.'" Lead Stories can find no evidence of this comment being reported on, as this Google search shows.
Lead Stories reached out to the Gates Foundation concerning the claim and will update this story as appropriate if a response is received.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about Bill Gates and COVID-19 can be found here and here.
NewsPunch, originally started as Your News Wire, is among the most prolific online publishers of fake news. It is run by a couple in Los Angles who say they are disillusioned liberals. NewsPunch has published numerous fake news articles in the past, so anything it publishes should be taken with a large grain of salt. Its Facebook page, "The People's Voice", lost its verification checkmark, according to a 2018 report from Media Matters For America.
Lead Stories has written several articles debunking NewsPunch claims, those can be found here.