DOJ recommends indictment of Ampatuan, eight other kin

November 28, 2009 2:51 am 

By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, Nov. 27 –Prosecutors said formal multiple murder charges will be filed on Tuesday before a Cotabato court after the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the indictment of Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. of Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao in connection with the election-linked killing of 57 persons, including 24 journalists, in Ampatuan town in the province last Monday.

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said a criminal complaint would be filed on Tuesday with the regional trial court in Cotabato City, accusing Mayor Ampatuan of seven counts of murder, the initial batch of charges after the city prosecutor found ample evidence and grounds from testimonies of several witnesses supporting the allegation in the complaint filed by Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, whose wife and two sisters were among those killed in the massacre.

The complaint was based on sworn statements of at least 17 witnesses, including several men of the Ampatuans who confessed taking part in the massacre, autopsy reports and photos of the cadavers.

The DOJ issued the resolution after the camp of Ampatuan waived his right to submit defense during inquest last Thursday in General Santos City.

It was supposed to be filed Thursday to comply with the 36-hour commitment of the DOJ to file the case after inquest, but the court was closed because of celebration of Eid Al – Adha. Devanadera said they could justify the delay in the filing of the complaint in court.

“If you only saw the photos and evidence, you would not imagine that a person in his right mind would do an act like that,” Devanadera said.

She said the investigating fiscals gave weight to the affidavit of Mangudadatu, where he claimed that his wife Genalyn even called him up on the phone a few moments before the murders.

Devanadera said an eyewitness said Ampatuan allegedly himself fired his gun. Another one, she said, confessed that the order to kill those in the caravan also came from the mayor.

The DOJ chief said that there was an obvious consistency in testimonies of witnesses. She said that relatives of media persons killed in the massacre also submitted their affidavits to the DOJ.

Also yesterday, Devanadera said that eight other Ampatuans have also been implicated by witnesses of having several roles in the massacre.

They were Ampatuan’s father and Maguindanao Governor Datu Andal Sr., brother and ARMM Governor Zaldy “Puti,” and relatives Akmad, Saudi Jr., Bahnarian Jr., Sajid Islam, and Akmad “Tato.”

Devanadera said Mayor Ampatuan and his eight relatives have been placed in the Immigration watch list to prevent them from leaving the country.

“They (eight others) are under investigation. In a way they can be considered suspects already because of the statements of witnesses. It is now up to law enforcement authorities to arrest them since they are still in hot pursuit operations,” she said.

She also said that they (eight other suspects) would also be given the same procedure accorded to Mayor Ampatuan. (PNA)(br>RMA/PFN


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