The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins with affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in stronglysupporting a decision by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to reject an offer by a key suspected conspirator in the 2009 Ampatuan Town Massacre to be a state witness.
Suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)Governor Zaldy Ampatuan last week confirmed rumours that he was willing to testify against his father, Andal Ampatuan Sr,and brother Andal Ampatuan Jr.
The three family members are on trial for the massacre in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009, in which 58 people including 32 journalists and media workers were brutally murdered.
“The IFJ welcomes the rejection of Zaldy Ampatuan’s application to be a state witness,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“Zaldy Ampatuan’s offer to testify against family members seems an attempt to avoid the full judicial process in prosecuting him for his alleged crime, and the IFJ joins with the NUJP in supporting the decision to reject the offer.”
At least one key prosecution witness has already identified Zaldy Ampatuan as amongthose who conspired and plotted the massacre, which disqualifies him from becoming a state witness, the NUJP said in a statement
The IFJ also notes that Zaldy Ampatuan has not yet been arraigned because of a case brought by the accused in the Court of Appeals, where he sought to be excluded from the group of 197 people chargedwith 57 counts of murder. The body of one further victim, Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay, has not been found.
The IFJ joins the NUJP in calling on those seeking justice for the massacre victims and theirfamilies to remain vigilant to ensure that justice is upheld in this critical case.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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