Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Charges over massacre in Philippines

A member of a powerful clan accused over a massacre of 57 people, including up to 30 journalists, in the southern Philippines has been charged with multiple murders, prosecutors say, BBC News reports today.
Andal Ampatuan Jr, a mayor from Maguindanao province, surrendered last week and has denied involvement.
Prosecutors say witnesses saw him lead gunmen in the 23 November massacre.
Those killed were trying to file nomination papers for a candidate challenging Ampatuan in next year's gubernatorial elections. The group - which included relatives of the candidate, lawyers and journalists - were taken to a remote hill region and shot at close range.
Their bodies were then dumped in shallow graves.
The BBC reports that prosecutors say that Andal Ampatuan Jr has been charged with 25 counts of murder. They have filed the charges in Cotobato city, in the closest regional court to the massacre site.
But they are expected to ask for the trial to be moved to the capital, Manila, for security reasons. About 20 other suspects, including senior members of the Maguindanao provincial police force and officers of Ampatuan township's force, are in custody and are being investigated.
The Ampatuan family have effectively been in charge of Maguindanao for decades, analysts say.

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