Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Philippine massacre victims ‘begged for mercy’

MANILA (AFP) – A witness at the trial of the Philippines’ worst political massacre told the court Wednesday that the victims begged for mercy as they were beaten before being taken away to be shot.

Muslim farmer Nuruddin Mauyag told the court he was standing nearby when defendant Andal Ampatuan Jnr and his men blocked the victims’ convoy near the witness’ home and made them lie on the ground while their mobile phones were taken away.

“They were hit with the butt of firearms, the armed men punched them, kicked them, punched them on the back of the head, slapped them,” Mauyag, 35, testified.

“They (victims) were crying and some women said ‘why are you doing this to us, we are media,” he said.

Ampatuan, a member of a Muslim political clan that had ruled the southern province of Maguindanao for a decade, is accused of planning and taking part in the November 23, 2009 massacre of 57 people there.

The clan is accused of abducting the victims, including relatives of a political rival and journalists, and murdering them to stop a rival from challenging their rule of Maguindanao in the May 2010 elections.

Ampatuan’s father and namesake, three brothers and an uncle, as well as police officers and the clan’s bodyguards are among 196 people accused in the crime.

At least 120 of the suspects remain at large, according to human rights monitors.

Mauyag said Ampatuan grabbed a tall Muslim woman at the checkpoint, later identified by prosecutors as Genalyn Mangudadatu, wife of his rival for the Maguindanao provincial governor’s post, Esmael Mangudadatu.

When she protested Ampatuan fired on the ground between her legs, the witness said.

“You are hard headed, I will shoot you now, I will kill you,” the witness quoted Ampatuan as saying.

Mauyag is the second prosecution witness to testify. Last week, he told the court that he saw the gunmen trucked to the area days before the massacre.

The first witness, a former servant of the Ampatuan family, told the court last week that he witnessed the Ampatuan defendants plot to kill Esmael Mangudadatu during a meeting on November 17, 2009. (AFP)

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