MANILA, Philippines– Former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to murder of 57 people in Maguindanao in 2009.
He is the third member of the powerful Ampatuan clan implicated in the case to be arraigned. The other arraigned Ampatuans are the patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Zaldy’s brother Andal Ampatuan Jr.
Ampatuan was arraigned after the Supreme Court stood pat on its June 2012 ruling affirming the Court of Appeals decision ordering his inclusion in the list of accused in the Maguindanao massacre.
Ampatuan, in his second motion for reconsideration, questioned the high court’s decision for not stating its basis.
But the high court said since it could not find any reversible error with the appeals court decision, it was adopting its findings.
Court records showed that out of the 196 accused, 98 have been arrested and 82 have been arraigned while 57 have applied for bail.
Handling the case for the prosecution are 35 lawyers–21 public and 14 private. On the defense side, there are 54 lawyers.
Since the trial started on Jan. 5, 2010, the prosecution has so far presented 101 witnesses to the stand.
Excluding oral motions, 307 motions and other matters have been filed or raised of which 204 have been resolved.
The records also showed that there were 447 comments, oppositions, rejoinders, sur-rejoinders and manifestations have been filed as a result of the 307 motions.
Records of the case have reached 48 volumes. This case is considered the most brutal election related killing and the worst crime against the members of the media.