Massacre suspect can’t file demurrer yet – judge
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - October 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Quezon City judge handling the Maguindanao massacre trial did not allow a suspect in the multiple murder case to file a motion that could warrant his release on the grounds that the prosecution evidence against him is weak.

In a two-page order, Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said suspect Manny Ampatuan – reportedly a distant relative of the primary accused in the trial – is not yet allowed to file a demurrer to evidence.

Ampatuan earlier asked the court to allow him to file the motion, arguing that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

A demurrer to evidence questions the sufficiency of the prosecution evidence and may be used as a ground for the dismissal of the case.

But in her ruling, Solis-Reyes noted that a demurrer can only be filed after the prosecution panel submits its formal offer of evidence and rests its case.

“The filing of the instant motion is premature,” Solis-Reyes said.

In the motion, Ampatuan’s lawyer Johnsen Salazar said only one prosecution witness, Akmad Abubakar Esmael, has identified his client during the course of the three-year trial.

“Irreconcilable inconsistencies and impossible personal observations contrary to human experience reveals that witness is not credible which we intend to detail in our demurrer to evidence,” he added.

Salazar filed the motion in behalf of Ampatuan after the prosecution panel manifested its intention to terminate the presentation of evidence against him and 27 other suspects.

But in its comment, the prosecution panel asked the judge to dismiss Ampatuan’s motion for being premature. It said the prosecution has yet to formally terminate its presentation of evidence against the accused.

The accused is one of the alleged members of the Ampatuan clan’s private army that participated in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre.

A total of 197 suspects, including senior members of what used to be the most powerful political family in Maguindanao, had been implicated in the massacre.

 

AKMAD ABUBAKAR ESMAEL AMPATUAN EVIDENCE JOHNSEN SALAZAR JUDGE JOCELYN SOLIS-REYES MAGUINDANAO MANNY AMPATUAN PROSECUTION QUEZON CITY REGIONAL TRIAL COURT BRANCH
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