Ampatuan lawyer nixes witnesses in massacre trial
A lawyer of the Ampatuans in the Maguindanao massacre case wants to defer the presentation of two prosecution witnesses, saying that they were not on the court-approved list of evidence and witnesses for the trial.
Lawyer Philip Sigfrid Fortun questioned the prosecution’s plan to present Gemma Oquendo, sister of victim and lawyer Cynthia Oquendo, and a forensic expert from the National Bureau of Investigation.
Fortun represents Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his father, Andal Sr., the alleged masterminds of the Nov. 23, 2009, Maguindanao massacre. They are among the 196 accused who are facing 57 counts of murder for the gruesome killing of 57 people, including 32 journalists.
In a two-page urgent motion, the lawyer asked for an official stand from Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 regarding the “additional witnesses.”
During a hearing on Jan. 5, state prosecutor Peter Medalle announced in open court that the two witnesses would be presented at the resumption of the hearing on Jan. 11.
The hearing will be held at the Branch 221 courtroom in Quezon City and not at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
But Fortun said that Oquendo and the NBI forensic expert were on the pretrial order’s lists of prosecution witnesses, both in the Sept. 7, 2010 order and a supplement order issued on Nov. 30, 2010, after the pretrial conference was concluded.
He argued that the presentation of new unlisted witnesses violated a Supreme Court memorandum on the matter and “provides an unfair maneuver to keep adding new witnesses after pretrial despite the prosecutors’ duty to build their case and evidence at the inception of trial.”
The defense lawyer warned that this would open “the floodgates to forgotten, manufactured and contrived testimonies.”
Aside from an official court ruling on the additional witnesses, the defense also sought to defer the presentation of the two witnesses until their urgent motion was resolved.
Fortun noted the prosecution’s alleged “inability” to list all its witnesses even if the case was filed back in 2009.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.