Friday, April 16, 2010

Feared clan members accused in Maguindanao massacre brought to Manila

Jailed Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr rests at a gazebo inside the military's Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City in Mindanao before his transfer to Manila on Friday, April 16, 2010. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / April 16, 2010) – Political allies of Philippine leader Gloria Arroyo accused of murdering 57 people in Mindanao were flown to Manila late Friday where they will answer charges against them, officials said.

The five were all members of the powerful Ampatuan clan, including its patriarch Andal Sr, the governor of Maguindanao province; and his sons – Zaldy Ampatuan, the governor of the Muslim autonomous region; Sajid Ampatuan, Akmad Ampatuan Sr, the vice governor of Maguindanao, and Anwar Ampatuan, the mayor of Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao.

They were herded in a tightly guarded prison in Taguig City where Andal Ampatuan Jr, the mayor of Datu Unsay town, also accused in the brutal murders, is locked up.

The young Ampatuan is accused of leading the November 23 killings of 57 people, including at least 32 journalists who accompanied a political caravan of a rival clan, the Mangudadatus.

The caravan was traveling when it was stopped by more than 100 gunmen in Shariff Aguak town and killed and buried its passengers in two mass graves in nearby town of Ampatuan. Among those killed were the wife and sister of Esmael Mangudadatu who is running for governor in next month’s polls.

The Ampatuan clan, a strong political ally of Arroyo, denied all the charges against them and blamed Moro rebels for the massacre, an allegation strongly rejected by authorities. (Mindanao Examiner)

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