Court orders Zaldy Ampatuan returned to jail as massacre case verdict nears
Zaldy Ampatuan has been under hospital arrest since October after suffering a stroke.
The STAR, File

Court orders Zaldy Ampatuan returned to jail as massacre case verdict nears

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - December 17, 2019 - 5:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — A Quezon City court has ordered the return of former regional governor Zaldy Ampatuan to his jail cell in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City two days before the expected promulgation of the verdict in the Philippines’ worst political massacre.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 granted the prosecution's motion to order Ampatuan returned to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan from his confinement in a Makati hospital.

The court found that Ampatuan, who has been under hospital arrest since October after suffering a stroke, can undergo rehabilitation while in detention.

“The court finds that there is no longer any need for accused-movant to remain in hospital as the procedure during rehabilitation session can be done to him as an out-patient,” Reyes said.

The judge also ordered the jail warden of Quezon City Jail-Annex in Camp Bagong Diwa, to immediately transport Ampatuan to his detention facility.

In a motion filed last month, state prosecutors stressed that Ampatuan “would do any last ditch move toward his liberty, be it resorting to his act of taking flight.”

The decision on the gruesome massacre will be handed down on December 19, Thursday, more than 10 years since the brutal killings. 

A decade ago, 58 people, including 32 media workers, were killed in broad daylight and dumped into roadside pits during an attack that was also dubbed as one of the world's worst mass killings of journalists. 

They were on their way to the Commission on Elections office in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao to witness the filing of the certificate of candidacy of then-gubernatorial candidate Esmael Mangudadatu.

Mangudadatu, then mayor of Buluan town, lost his wife, sisters and other relatives in the massacre.

Zaldy Ampatuan and Datu Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr. are the primary accused in the case. Datu Sajid Islam Amaptuan was allowed to post bail in 2015 and was elected mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha town in May. 

RELATED: Sandiganbayan affirms Sajid Islam Ampatuan’s graft conviction

Ampatuan patriach Andal Sr. died in July 2015. 

Of the original 197 suspects, 80 remain at large, including 15 members of the Ampatuan clan. — with report from Agence France-Presse

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