IFJ Fears Further Delay in Ampatuan Massacre Trials

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins

its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of

the Philippines (NUJP)

in voicing concerns over further potential delays to the Ampatuan Town Massacre

trials in the Philippines.

 

Firdausi

Abbas, a lawyer for one of the key suspects in the massacre, suspended

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, has

reportedly proposed his client be eligible for “hospital arrest”, after being

admitted to the Philippine Heart Center for a medical checkup.

 

Ampatuan

will be held indefinitely at the medical facility while tests are conducted,

despite reports that his condition was stabilising. Lawyer Harry Roque, representing

some of the massacre victims’ families, has raised concerns about a “high-risk”

detainee such as Ampatuan being held indefinitely in a low-security

environment, according to local media reports.

 

Thirty-two

journalists and media workers were among the 58 people killed in the massacre,

in the southern Philippines province of Maguindanao on November 23, 2009. 

 

Ampatuan has

not yet been arraigned in the massacre trials, because of a case in the Court of

Appeals, where he sought to be excluded from the group of 197 people charged

with 57 counts of murder. The body of one further victim, Reynaldo “Bebot”

Momay, has not been found.

 

Ampatuan’s

admission to the Heart

Center comes just two

weeks after heconfirmed he waswilling to testify against his father, Andal

Ampatuan Sr, and brother Andal Ampatuan Jr.

 

Philippines Justice Secretary Leila de Lima rejected his offer to be a state

witness.

 

“The IFJ

hopes that full security measures will be enforced for Zaldy Ampatuan’s

hospital detention and that he will be returned to a high-security facility

without unnecessary delay,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“For the

families of the massacre victims, this is yet another frustrating turn of

events in the trials, which have been marred by a series of seemingly

unnecessary delays.”

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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