Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Police find evidence to link government militia to Maguindanao massacre

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / December 2, 2009) – Police is investigating a government militia for his possible involvement in the brutal slaying of 57 people in the southern province of Maguindanao.

The militia is among more than a hundred gunmen who held a caravan of political campaigners and journalists and killed and buried them on mass graves on remote village in Ampatuan town on November 23.

Police said the militia is being investigated after bullets shells found in the mass graves matched his rifle. More than 300 militias under the control of the Ampatuan clan were disarmed after they had been linked to the brutal slayings.

Authorities have linked the mass murders to Andal Ampatuan Jnr, the mayor of Datu Unsay town and son of the governor of Maguindanao, Andal Ampatuan Snr, and younger brother of Zaldy Ampatuan, governor of the Muslim autonomous region to which the province belongs.

Among those killed were the wife and two sisters of Ampatuan’s rival, Buluan town vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, sent to file the nomination paper of the politician who is running for governor in Maguindanao.

At least 30 journalists, who were to cover the event, were among those mercilessly killed, but as many as 34 media workers are believed to be in the group whose caravan was intercepted in the Ampatuan stronghold of Shariff Aguak town.

Ampatuan Jnr, who is also eyeing the gubernatorial post, denied all the accusations against him and blamed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the attack, an allegation denied by the rebel group which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said there were witnesses who pointed to the politician as the alleged leader of the group that killed the 57 people.

Devanadera said they are also investigating the two governors and five more clan members in connection with gruesome killings. The Ampatuans are key political allies of Arroyo in the southern Philippines.

Police earlier said it filed seven counts of murder against Ampatuan Jnr, who surrendered to Arroyo’s aide Jesus Dureza three days after the massacre.

The hearing of the massacre case is likely to be transferred to Manila after judges handling the murder charges against the mayor received death threats. (Mindanao Examiner)

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