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CA upholds multiple murder charges vs. Andal Sr's son

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MANILA -- The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the multiple murder charges filed against one Ampatuan family member who stand accused in the high-profile Maguindanao massacre case.

 

In a 12-page decision, the CA First Division denied Sajid Ampatuan's petition contesting the murder charges filed against him by the Department of Justice in connection with the carnage.

Sajid is the son of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., who, along with his two other sons, Andal Jr. and Zaldy, allegedly masterminded the killing of 58 people on November 23, 2009.

More than half of the victims were journalists, while the rest were relatives and supporters of incumbent Maguindanao governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, a member of a rival political clan who was then about to challenge an Ampatuan clan member in the gubernatorial race.

"Wherefore, the petition is hereby dismissed. Accordingly, the assailed DOJ Resolutions dated 17 June 2011 and 25 January 2013, affirming the finding of probable cause for the crime of multiple murder against petitioner and others, stand," the appellate court said.

The CA said Sajid failed to prove that the DOJ had "commited wanton, whimsical, unfettered and capricious exercise on judgment" when it filed the murder charges against him. It added that it had found "no tinge of arbitrariness or capriciousness on the part of the Secretary of Justice" in recommending the filing of the case.

Sajid claimed he was in Shariff Saydona and not at the crime site in Barangay Salman on the time of the killings, but the court ruled that Sajid failed prove this.

"It cannot be denied, too, that the defense of alibi is a matter of evidence that is best ventilate in a full-blown trial and not during preliminary investigation where the inquiry is limited to whether or not there is probable cause to believe that a crime is committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof," the CA said.

Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda penned the decision, with Associate Justices Francisco Acosta and Pedro Corales concurring.

Sajid, who pleaded not guilty last month, once served as Maguindanao OIC governor.

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