Appeals court won’t let suspect off the hook
The Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed the indictment of a member of the influential Ampatuan clan in connection with the slaughter of 57 people in Maguindanao in November 2009.
In a 37-page ruling, the appellate court threw out the petition for certiorari filed by Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan Sr., former Mamasapano, Maguindanao mayor, which assailed the May 5, 2010, resolution of then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra.
Agra’s resolution approved the inclusion of Akmad in the multiple murder case that the Department of Justice filed against 197 individuals over the Maguindanao massacre incident.
“In sum, we find no reversible error committed by the public respondents in finding probable cause to indict the petitioner for multiple murder,” the court said.
The ruling was authored by Associate Justice Francisco Acosta with Associate Justices Vicente Veloso and Angelita Gacutan concurring in.
Akmad is a cousin of principal suspects Andal Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan.
In its decision, the appellate court turned down Akmad’s allegation that Agra and the state prosecutors committed grave abuse of discretion in naming him as among the accused.
It said the former mayor’s “probable guilt in the commission of the crime has been sufficiently established.”
“To stress, the pieces of evidence and factual circumstances herein considered merely create probable cause against petitioner sufficient to engender… that a crime has been committed and that petitioner is probably guilty thereof,” the court said, adding:
“Thus, at this point of the proceedings, petitioner’s protest against the alleged lack of prima facie evidence against him is misplaced, if not premature.”
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