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Suspect willing to testify on Philippine massacre

Suspect willing to testify on Philippine massacre

A scion of a powerful political clan accused in the 2009 massacre of 57 people in the Philippines said Monday he would be willing to testify against his father and brother if the government accepts his offer.
Zaldy Ampatuan, a former governor of a Muslim autonomous region in the southern Philippines, did not provide details of his offer to be a prosecution witness but he said he was innocent of the charges against him.
The criminal accusations have damaged his life, family and led to the detention of innocent people like him, Ampatuan told ABS-CBN TV network.
Four children of Ampatuan have been so affected by the stigma they have sought court permission to change their family name, ABS-CBN said.
"I'm willing to testify and reveal whoever were involved, even my parent and sibling, so that this problem can be solved," Ampatuan said.
Lawyers and relatives of the victims oppose acceptance of Ampatuan's offer, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Ampatuan has not made any formal offer to her office.
Witnesses have testified that Zaldy Ampatuan was among Ampatuan clan conspirators who allegedly plotted the Nov. 23, 2009 killings in Maguindanao province. Among those being tried for the killings are his father and a brother, who allegedly plotting the killings and led about 100 gunmen in mowing down the unarmed victims on a hilltop.
The massacre is the worst act of political violence in a country inured to bloodshed. A total of 196 people have been charged with multiple murder, 90 of whom are in custody, and 58 have been arraigned. More than 50 others are still at large.
The principal suspect, former town Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., and his father have pleaded not guilty. The trial is held twice weekly in a maximum-security detention facility.
More than 30 victims were media workers in a convoy of politicians the Ampatuans are accused of targeting.


Updated : 2021-03-03 20:02 GMT+08:00