Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Witness Implicates Prominent Family in Philippine Massacre

MANILA, Philippines - Testimony has begun in the trial of a prominent Philippine politician accused in last year's massacre of 57 people, including at least 30 journalists.

A former house servant of Andal Ampatuan told the court Wednesday his boss had gathered his children at his home to discuss how to stop a rival politician from running for governor of southern Maguindanao province.

The employee, Lakmudin Saliao, said Andal Ampatuan Junior told his father the easy thing to do would be to "kill them all."

Andal Junior is the main suspect in last November's massacre in Maguindanao and he is one of nearly 200 people, including his father, linked to the crime.

The Ampatuan family had ruled the southern province for nearly a decade. Andal Junior was a local mayor who was also running for governor of Maguindanao at the time of the massacre.

Among those killed were several relatives of the rival politician, including his wife and sisters.

Many of the suspects remain at large.

Saliao testified that Andal Junior was waiting for the convoy on the day of the massacre and received instructions from his father by phone. He said the elder Ampatuan wanted to spare the lives of the journalists traveling in the convoy, but that his son insisted they be killed so there would be no witnesses.

Media watchdog groups say this is the deadliest single attack on reporters in the world. (AFP, AP and Reuters)

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