DOJ to conduct preliminary investigation on ambush of Cotabato vice mayor

February 23, 2012 11:41 am 

COTABATO CITY, Feb. 23 – The three-man panel of state prosecutors will start next week the preliminary investigation on the charges of frustrated murder against the suspects in the January 10 ambush of Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema.

In a department order, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima named Assistant State Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano and prosecution lawyers Gerard Gaerlan and Javee Laurence Bandong as members of the panel.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have filed criminal charges against Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani, his sister-lawyer City Administrator Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi and her husband Omar, Cotabato City Councilors Nasser Dumama and Abdilla Lim, village chair Amil Sula and Police Insp. Noel Gutierrez. They are all facing charges of multiple murder and three counts of attempted murder.

"The panel was directed to file appropriate information before the appropriate court if the evidence warrants," De Lima said in her order.

The order was issued by de Lima following a complaint filed by CIDG last February 6.

Police said witnesses claimed that the attack on the vice mayor was political motivated since he is planning to run for mayor against Guiani in the 2013 elections.

Sema, also chair of the Moro National Liberation Front, sustained gunshot wounds on the right side of his lower jaw when the alleged gunman, Zermin Abdulla, opened fire on him while he was heading for home along Gonzalo Javier Street on January 10.

The CIDG in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao also charged Insp. Gutierrez for allegedly withholding vital evidence to the crime.

After the police announced the filing of charges against Guiani and five others, the mayor issued statement vehemently denying involvement in the attempt on Sema's life.

The Semas and the Guainis are related by blood. (PNA)

FFC/NYP/EOF

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