Prosecutors ask for return of massacre accused to jail

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    STATE prosecutors have urged the Quezon City court handling the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case to order Zaldy Ampatuan, one of the principal accused and former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, to return to his detention cell at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.

    They said Ampatuan might use his hospital confinement to escape now that the court is set to render a verdict on the Nov. 23, 2009 case next month.

    In an urgent motion dated November 22, the prosecution panel asked Quezon City Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to order Ampatuan’s return to his detention cell.

    Ampatuan remained confined at the Makati Medical Center after suffering a stroke on October 22. The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology has said Ampatuan was undergoing therapy.

    The prosecution panel said Ampatuan might engineer his escape from the hospital.

    “The prosecution panel is not unmindful of the medical condition of PDL (person deprived of liberty) Zaldy Ampatuan. Unfortunately, it is apprehensive that his alleged hospital confinement under the cloak of being still undergoing continuous physical and occupational therapy may provide him all the opportunity for a convenient escape,” the motion said.

    “It cannot be gainsaid that the promulgation of judgment on these cases is forthcoming with the prosecution’s strong belief of conviction for accused Zaldy Ampatuan. The prosecution panel, therefore, is of the view that accused Zaldy Ampatuan would do any last-ditch move towards his liberty, be it resorting to his act of taking flight,” it added.

    The prosecution also said Ampatuan no longer needs to be confined as he is only undergoing physical and occupational therapy which they said can be done in his detention cell.

    “In deference to this Honorable Court, it should now stop extending so much grace, sympathy or concerns to accused Zaldy Ampatuan but has to act firmly and with an iron hand to prevent any untoward contingency while its decision is still underway,” the prosecution said.

    In the interim, the prosecution asked the court to order the BJMP to tighten security measures on Ampatuan at the hospital.

    Ampatuan is facing multiple murder charges in connection with the Maguindanao massacre in which 58 people were killed, including 32 print and broadcast journalists.

    The other principal accused are Ampatuan’s brothers, former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and Sajid Islam Ampatuan.

    Their father, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. who is also among those charged in the case, died in 2015 while under detention due to a lingering illness.

    The case should have been decided this month as it has been submitted for resolution last August but Solis-Reyes asked the Supreme Court for additional time to come out with a decision.