2 years after Zamboanga siege, case vs Misuari stuck on pre-trial stage
TWO years after the bloody siege in Zamboanga, the government case against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari is still on the pre-trial stage before the Pasig City Regional Trial Court.
A pre-trial is conducted within 30 days from the date of the arraignment to stipulate facts of the case, mark and identify evidence of all the parties, among others. It is mandatory in every criminal proceeding, the purpose of which is to expedite the process.
The Pasig Court Branch 158 has set the pre-trial dates on Sept. 22, 23 and 24.
Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon said voluminous documents and the number of respondents would set the pace of the proceedings.
More than 200 accused including Misuari were charged in court.
Court records showed that only 100 were arraigned while the rest, including Misuari, are still at large.
The arrested suspects were initially detained at the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City, but were eventually moved to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City amid fears that their comrades might spring them out of jail if they remained in Zamboanga.
In November last year, charges against 59 of the accused were dropped by the DOJ after the Pasig RTC directed the prosecution panel to conduct a reinvestigation of the case.
The decision to drop the case against the 59 came after the prosecution found no evidence that they took part in the Zamboanga siege, which resulted in the death of dozens of soldiers, police, civilians and Misuari supporters, as well as extensive damage to property in the city.
But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said then that it would not affect the case against Misuari and his key commanders Ustadz Habier Malik, Assamin Bas Arki and Assamin Hussin.
Misuari and his commanders were charged with rebellion and violation of Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity.
The charges were initially filed before the Zamboanga RTC but it was transferred to the Pasig RTC upon the orders of the Supreme Court due to security consideration. AC
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