09/08/2010, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Maguindanao massacre trial begins

The court heard the first witness of the massacre today, after five months of extensions. Main accused Andalo Ampatuan Jr. and 16 former policemen, identified as the authors of the massacre. For the relatives of victims the trial could take years, endangering the lives of other witnesses.

Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - After five months of extensions, the trial against Andalo Ampatuan Jr., the main accused in the Maguindanao (Mindanao) massacre, and his accomplices, 16 former policemen, started today in Quezon City. During the session, the judges heard the deposition of Lakmudin Suliya the first witness of the massacre that occurred on November 23 last year and cost the lives of 57 people. The trial was to begin last week, but the head of the court, Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, accepted the request for an extension of seven days sought by defense lawyers to study the documentation.

"It 's hard to fight these demons - says Manette Salaysay the relative of one of the victims - we want justice."

Nine months after the massacre no one has yet been sentenced. To date, 190 members of the Ampatuan clan have been accused of murder, but only 17 are on trial. According to the relatives of those killed, the case could take years, allowing the Ampatuan clan to eliminate several witnesses, something that already started with the killing Uphan Suwaidi, a self-confessed killer who took part in the massacre, on 14 June.

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