Trial in Philippines massacre suspended

Feb. 24, 2010 at 6:02 PM
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QUEZON, Philippines, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Proceedings against a Philippine politician suspected of being involved in the massacre of 57 people were suspended Wednesday for at least two weeks.

Andal Ampatuan Jr., mayor of Datu Unsay, faces multiple homicide counts. Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Trial Court ordered a break in his trial to allow lawyers for the prosecution, defense and victims time to respond to motions, GMANews.TV reported.

The Maguindanao Massacre, named after the province where it took place, occurred on Nov. 23, 2009, in the town of Ampatuan on the island of Mindanao. Gunmen opened fire on a convoy on its way to file candidate papers for Esmael Mangudadatu, who planned to challenge Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., an ally of President Gloria Arroyo, in the upcoming election.

The victims included Mangudadatu's wife and sisters and at least 34 reporters and other news employees as well as lawyers, aides and passing motorists.

Nena Santos, a lawyer for the prosecution, said she hopes the proceedings will be quick because the lives of witnesses are at risk.

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