Witness says Philippine massacre suspect 'shot victims'

Prosecutors presented before a local court on Wednesday an eyewitness to the killing of 57 people.

Witness says Philippine massacre suspect 'shot victims'

Prosecutors, opposing a bail application by the key suspect in a massacre in the southern Philippines in late 2009, presented before a local court on Wednesday an eyewitness to the killing of 57 people.

The witness, Rasul Sangki, told the court the victims were blocked on a highway and then taken to a hillside where they were executed. Some of the victims were buried along with their vehicles in shallow mass graves.

Sangki, vice mayor of Ampatuan town where the killings took place, told the court the victims were shot at close range by Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr, the main suspect in the killings, and his two nephews.

Ampatuan Jr has said he had nothing to do with the massacre, telling local television he was confident he would be found not guilty if he received a fair trial.

Sangki also linked Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr., the patriarch of a powerful political clan, to the killings of members of a rival political family, journalists and civilians on Nov. 23.

"Father, they're here," Sangki quoted Ampatuan Jr. as telling his father over a two-way radio. Sangki, who said he was standing less than two metres away from the main suspect, said he heard the older Ampatuan reply: "You know what to do."

Sangki, whose sister is married to Ampatuan Sr's grandson, said he volunteered to testify against the Ampatuans.

He said he was at the crime scene because Ampatuan Jr called him to join his group, which was then at a police checkpoint along the highway.

Ampatuan Jr shook his head and was visibly irritated while Sangki gave his testimony. He was under heavy guard but his handcuffs were removed inside the courtroom at a police camp in the Philippines' capital, Manila.

State prosecutors said they were confident Sangki's account would convince the judge to deny bail for Ampatuan Jr.

Most of the victims were on their way to an election office to witness the filing of nomination papers for a member of the Ampatuans' rival political clan when about 100 armed men attacked their convoy.


Reuters


Last Mod: 13 Ocak 2010, 14:22
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