State Lawyers Seek To Free Maguindanao Massacre Suspect Wrongfully Jailed

February 16, 2016

MANILA, Philippines – The prosecution panel in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case has asked a Quezon City court to release from detention an accused mistakenly arrested by the police.

In a four-page motion to dismiss filed before the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 221, state lawyers led by city prosecutor Archimedes Manabat sought for the dismissal of the 58 counts of murder filed against accused Sanggutin Musa alias Mores Sali Musa.

Court records showed that Mores was arrested by elements of the Maguindanao provincial police in Barangay Malasing, Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat on Dec. 6, 2015 for his alleged involvement in the massacre.

He was arraigned last December 18.

On February 14, 2013, prosecution witness Sukarno Badal in the course of his testimony mentioned a certain Sangguten Musa, who was allegedly one of the “commanders” involved in the carnage.

During the preliminary conference last January 28, the prosecution asked Badal to identify if Mores, who was then present in court, was the same Musa he mentioned in his testimony.

But Badal, a former vice mayor of Sultan sa Barongis town in Maguindanao, told the court that the accused was not the one he spoke about in his testimony.

He said the accused and the real Musa may only have the same family name as the former was not the one he was referring to.

He said he knows Musa very well since they both hail from Sultan sa Barongis.

In the same proceeding, Mores presented to the court his GSIS unified multi-purpose identification card, bearing his photo and other personal information.

The prosecution noticed a striking discrepancy in the personal information and appearance of the person arrested with that of Musa on case file, particularly on their dates of birth and heights.

In view of the circumstances, the prosecution said they are strongly convinced that the person arrested and brought to the court is not the same person who participated in the commission of the massacre.

“The burden of the prosecution is not only to establish the commission of the crime charged but also the identity of the accused or the persons who participated in the crime,” the prosecutors said in the motion.

“In this case, there exists not only a reasonable but solid doubt on the identity of accused and justice demands that he should not be held any longer to answer for the crimes charged,” they added.

A total of 197 suspects were initially charged for the gruesome killing of 58 people, including 32 media practitioners, at Ampatuan town in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.

Several members of the powerful Ampatuan clan and some of its supporters were among those charged.

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