Thursday, April 19, 2012

Zaldy Ampatuan asks to defer arraignment

MANILA, Philippines—Zaldy Ampatuan has appealed anew to a Quezon City court to defer his scheduled April 26 arraignment on multiple murder charges in connection with the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

The brother of primary accused Andal Jr. sought to reverse the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221’s order fixing the date of his arraignment on 57 counts of murder.

Zaldy Ampatuan filed his 15-page motion for reconsideration through lawyer Philip Sigfrid Fortun.

The governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at the time of the massacre, Zaldy Ampatuan is among 196 persons charged with multiple murder for the carnage on November 23, 2009.

He is the brother of primary accused Andal Ampatuan Jr. and a son of Andal Ampatuan Sr.

The Maguindanao massacre, believed to have been carried out by the Ampatuans, left 57 people dead, including lawyers, women and 32 media workers.

In an omnibus order dated March 29, RTC Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes junked two of Zaldy’s appeals questioning his indictment for being “moot and academic.”

The Quezon City court said it did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it admitted the amended information including Zaldy among the accused.

The court added that since it had jurisdiction over the cases, it had the right to issue commitment orders for the accused’s detention.

In his appeal, Zaldy sought for the postponement of his arraignment until the Department of Justice’s findings of probable cause becomes final.

The accused also asked the Quezon City court to conduct a judicial determination of probable cause and to “declare his continued detention as unlawful.”

He pointed out that the initial basis for his detention was the rebellion case against the Ampatuans which was dismissed by Judge Vivencio Baclig of RTC Branch 77 in 2010.

The accused also cited the admission of the amended information and the DOJ’s “mechanical findings” of probable cause still pending at the Court of Appeals.

In asking for a judicial determination of probable cause, Zaldy said he was not able to examine the affidavit of a certain Talusan during the DOJ’s preliminary investigation.

Through his lawyer, the accused pointed out that the affidavit was executed five months after the Maguindanao massacre.

Zaldy Ampatuan “should have been heard on this and allowed to submit controvert evidence,” the pleading read, adding that it was the “only evidence against him.”

The “procedural irregularities” in the preliminary investigation, Zaldy argued, justified the deferment of his arraignment.

The Quezon City court is set to hear the motion for reconsideration on April 23.

Zaldy Ampatuan news

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