Court acquits Sajid Ampatuan, brother-in-law in Maguindanao massacre case
MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has acquitted Sajid Islam Ampatuan and brother-in-law Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan Sr. because while they knew of the murder plot, they did nothing to help push it through.
Sajid is currently out on bail. He was also elected Mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha. His brothers Andal Ampatuan Jr., Zaldy Ampatuan and Datu Anwar Ampatuan Sr. have been convicted of 57 counts of murder.
Eye-witness Sukarno Badal identified Sajid and Akmad as among those present during a meeting at a hotel in Manila to discuss the plan to kill then-Vice Mayor, now Congressman Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu four months before the massacre.
Badal said the two were also present during the November 17 and 22 meeting at the house of Zaldy Ampatuan and in Shariff Aguak to polish the murder plot.
“However, no one among the eyewitnesses had testified and pointed to them as being present at the crime site on Nov. 23, 2009,” said the court.
Although another witness, Anok Akil heard Sajid talking to his visitors about saving a backhoe and paying the visitor P2,000 cannot be considered significant.
“This cannot be considered an overt act indicative of conspiracy with his brothers and cohorts. His presence in the abovementioned meetings without uttering any words of encouragement that served to embolden and influence his brothers to carry out their plan so as to make him liable as a conspirator is wanting,” read the decision.
The court added: “It must be kept in mind that conspiracy must be established by positive and conclusive evidence. It cannot be based on mere conjectures but must be established as a fact.”
With regard to Akmad, the court said that his presence during the plan to kill Mangudadatu cannot be considered conspiring with the other accused.
“His mere presence in the meeting will not suffice to declare that he indeed conspired with the other Ampatuans to commit the crimes charged,” the court said.
Even if witnesses said Akmad uttered: “pakinggan natin si Ama. Okay kami lahat na patayin sila [let’s listen to our father. We all agree that they should be killed.]” and “mabuti nga sa mga Mangudadatu na mahilig mag ambisyon na patayin sila lahat [the Mangudadatus deserved to be killed because they are ambitious],” does not necessarily mean that he pushed for the commission of the crime which prima facie may suffice to find a strong evidence of guilt.
But the court noted that the fact that Akmad attended a medical mission for the whole day in collaboration with Smart Network International, Inc. at the Municipal gymnasium near the municipal hall of Mamasapano on November 23, 2009 showed that he did not cling to the agreed plot to kill.
Also acquitted are the following:
Police Master Sergeant Elizer Rendaje
Police Master Sergeant Alimola Gulanaton
Police Master Sergeant Samad Maguindra
Police Staff Sergeant Ricky Balanueco
Police Staff Sergeant Gibrael Alano
Police Corporal Rexcon Gulama
Patrolman Tamano Hadi
Patrolman Michael Macarongon
Police Master Sergeant Ali Solano
Police Staff Sergeant Felix Daquilos
Police Corporal Kendatu Rakim
Patrolman Abdulraman Batarasa
Patrolman Marjul Julkadi
Patrolman Datu Jerry Utto
Patrolman Mohammad Balading
Patrolman Marsman Nilong
Patrolman Ysmael Baraquir
Patrolman Abdulmanan Saavedra
Patrolman Jimmy Kadtong
Patrolman Sandy Sabang
Edris Tekay Nanding a.k.a. Ibrahim Kakob
Patrolman Warden Legawan
Malaguial Tanuri a.k.a. Johari Montok Malaguial
Alimudin Sanguyod a.k.a. Norodin Malang
Sahid Guiamadel a.ka.a. Arnel Abdullah
Kasim Lingkong a.k.a. Abdulkadir Saludin
Akad Macaton a.k.a. Mohamad Salazar Piang
Norhato Kamino a.k.a. Alfeche Banding
Nasser Malaguia a.k.a. Ramon Dadulo
Lieutenant Colonel Abdulwahid Pedtucasan,
Patrolman Ahmad Camsa Badal
Police Corporal Tanny Dalgan
Patrolman Anwar Masukat, Samsudin Daud
Maot Bangkulat a.k.a. Benjie Dagendengan
Denga Mentol a.k.a. Ronnie Ofong
Fahad Utto a.k.a. Richard Gofel
Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan
Patrolman Abdullah Baguadatu
Patrolman Oscar Donato
Patrolman Michael Madsig
They are cleared of 57 counts of murder.
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