Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Andal Jr. to face Mangudadatu at trial

01/27/2010 | 09:15 AM

Andal Ampatuan Jr., the key suspect in the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao last November 23, appeared relaxed on Wednesday hours before his court showdown with the husband of one of the victims.

The mayor of Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao smiled at media and even held up his handcuffs before being whisked before dawn to the venue of his ongoing trial.

Earlier, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said a prosecution witness would shake Ampatuan's camp at Wednesday's hearing.

"Our case is going smoothly and every week we present new evidence. Today we will present an eyewitness, an official from one of the Maguindanao towns, to shake up the defense," NBI spokesman and lawyer Ricardo Diaz told dwIZ radio in Filipino.

The mayor was also to have his first court confrontation with Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, whose wife Genalyn was among the victims of the gruesome Nov. 23 bloodbath.

Mangudadatu was expected to testify against the mayor's petition for bail.

A report on dwIZ radio said Ampatuan, wearing a pink polo and denim pants, appeared nonchalant at the NBI while a team checked his blood pressure.

The mayor was handcuffed and made to wear a bulletproof vest, as in past instances when he was whisked to the trial venue at Camp Crame.

Security remained tight for the mayor as he left the NBI headquarters in Manila towards the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame.

Radio dzBB's Carlo Mateo reported that the trip had taken some 14 minutes as the NBI, Manila Police District, and PNP Highway Patrol Group escorts cleared the path.

The convoy bearing the mayor arrived at Camp Crame before 6:30 a.m.

At Crame, dzBB's Sam Nielsen reported that 300 policemen were placed on full alert inside and outside the police camp.

Security was also tight for media, who were allowed to enter on a first-come-first-served basis.

Outside Camp Crame, Quezon City police were in full battle gear while yellow steel railings were placed near the two security gates. — NPA, GMANews.TV

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