Accused fails to show up for arraignment, cites “short notice”

Posted by ampatuan | Posted in Case Updates | Posted on 09-05-2014

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CMFR/Philippines – One of three individuals accused of involvement in the Ampatuan Massacre scheduled for arraignment on 7 and 8 May failed to appear in court. Mohamad Sangki, who is under the Witness Protection Program (WPP), failed to appear in Court because they did not have enough time to assure his safety, a motion from WPP said.

A person accused of a crime is read the charges against him and is asked to enter a ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ plea during an arraignment.

Former police officer Saudi Mukamad pled not guilty to 58 counts of murder on Wednesday morning before Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Branch 221 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in Manila.

The following day, accused Takpan Dilon and Mohamad Sangki, who were already arraigned for 57 counts of murder, were scheduled to be arraigned for the 58th, for the murder of massacre victim photojournalist Reynaldo Momay. But only Dilon appeared in Court and pled not guilty.

WPP asked the court to defer Sangki’s arraignment to 15 May, saying they cannot provide security and shelter to the accused due to the “short notice” given them. A WPP representative left the premises before the Judge could make him explain Sangki’s non-appearance.

Judge Solis-Reyes said the WPP’s reason was “flimsy,” and asked why Dilon, who claimed to also be under the Department of Justice’s WPP, was able to appear in Court. She nevertheless granted WPP’s motion and rescheduled Sangki’s arraignment to 12 May.

Sangki was put under the WPP after testifying against his co-accused in 2010. His younger brother, Mohamadisa Sangki, was shot dead in April 2010.

A motion to discharge Mohamad Sangki as one of the 197 persons accused of carrying out and masterminding the crime is pending before the Supreme Court. But Judge Solis-Reyes had already rejected his testimony from the prosecution’s formal offer of evidence (FOE) against the bail petition of accused Andal Ampatuan Jr. in April 2014.

Court records show 110 of the 197 originally named accused have already been arrested. Of those arrested, 104 have been arraigned.

On 23 November 2009, 58 people, 32 of whom were journalists and media workers, were killed in a single incident of election-related violence in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province in southern Philippines.