Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zaldy Ampatuan arraignment reset

The judge hearing the Maguindanao massacre case on Wednesday granted a defense petition asking for the deferment of the arraignment of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, which was scheduled for Thursday.

Lawyer Sigfrid Fortun had asked Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to allow the defense to file a motion for reconsideration to appeal Reyes’ ruling which set Ampatuan’s arraignment for this morning at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan.

Reyes said Ampatuan would be arraigned after she rules on the opposing arguments of the prosecution and the defense on the issue of the arraignment.

Fortun argued that arraigning Ampatuan now would deprive the latter of his right to appeal to the Supreme Court a recent Court of Appeals decision junking the former ARMM governor’s petition to have the case against him dismissed for lack of probable cause.

The prosecution objected, pointing out that Fortun had yet to file a petition for certiorari before the high court, hence there was no legal impediment to Ampatuan being arraigned now.

Fortun, however, claimed that the defense had received a copy of the Court of Appeals ruling only on Tuesday.

“It was the judge’s call. She was the one who set the arraignment and she was the one who recalled it,” said lead state prosecutor Peter Medalle.

“This is just a temporary setback. Ultimately, (Ampatuan) will be arraigned,” he added.

Relatives of the 57 massacre victims, some of whom flew all the way from Mindanao to attend Ampatuan’s arraignment, denounced the deferment.

Zaldy Ampatuan news

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