Arraignment of 2 Ampatuan clan members sought

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06:20 PM April 3rd, 2012

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April 3rd, 2012 06:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines—State prosecutors have asked a Quezon City court to arraign two members of the Ampatuan clan charged with multiple murder in connection with the Maguindanao massacre, saying the Court of Appeals had found nothing wrong with the preliminary investigation and there was no reason to further delay the arraignment.

The prosecution, led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Emilia Victorio, also opposed a motion for bail filed by Anwar Ampatuan and Akmad Ampatuan Sr.

The panel said there was “no irregularity” in the preliminary investigation as ruled by the Court of Appeals in upholding the findings of probable cause against the accused.

Staff of Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Regional Trial Court Branch 221 received the pleading on Monday.

“Finding that there was no irregularity in the proceedings at the prosecutorial stage, there is no more reason why their arraignment will not push through,  more so that they have been harping on the so-called violation of their right to speedy trial,” the prosecution’s six-page motion read.

In the same pleading, the prosecutors also voiced their opposition to both accused’s motion for bail, arguing that multiple murder is a heinous crime and a non-bailable offense.

Members of the Ampatuan clan led by Andal Ampatuan Jr. are among 196 people accused of carrying out the November 23, 2009 massacre in which  57 people, including more than 30, journalists and media workers, were killed in Maguindanao.

Akmad is a cousin of Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his brother, Zaldy, a former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, who along with their father, are also accused in the case.

In March, both Akmad andAnwar filed a motion asking permission to post bail for their provisional liberty.

In their motion filed through defense counsel  Paris Real, the accused alleged that there was no evidence on record to implicate them in the massacre.

However, the prosecution argued that the two accused were positively identified by several witnesses as “co-conspirators and principal participants” in the carnage.

They added that the issue of granting bail was within the court’s discretion and that merely denying the charges would “crumble in the face of the overwhelming evidence so far presented.’

The prosecutors asked to be allowed to present evidence in opposition for the motion for bail.

Meanwhile, the state prosecutors also asked the court to junk the pleading of an accused civilian questioning his indictment for the massacre, claiming he was mistakenly identified.

In a separate six-page opposition, Victorio et al sought for the denial of Kasim T. Lingkong’s motion for judicial determination of probable cause for lack of merit.

The prosecution pointed out that two witnesses had identified the accused as among those involved in the massacre and that there was probable cause to charge him.

“For this alone and even more, the instant motion of the accused should be denied outright,” they said.

Lingkong, a.k.a. Abdulkadir Saludin, earlier questioned his indictment as Saludin said he was  not the Lingkong on the prosecution list.

He was earlier charged in RTC Branch 18 in Midsayap, North Cotabato, for another offense but was later ordered released by RTC Branch 24.

The accused was however committed to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City because of an arrest warrant issued by the Quezon City court for his alleged involvement in the Maguindanao massacre.

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