Philippines: Ampatuans should remain in jail

21:19, March 29, 2010      

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The Philippine Department of Justice said Monday that members of the Ampatuan family should remain in detention as there are still murder charges filed against them.

Despite the local court's decision to dismiss rebellion charges against members of the Ampatuan family for lack of probable cause, Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr., Zaldy Ampatuan, Akmad Ampatuan, Sr., Sajid Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan, Takpan Dilon and Esmael Canapia should remain in jail for their alleged involvement in the Nov. 23 gruesome slaying of civilians in the province ogf Maguindanao.

State prosecutors filed last February rebellion charges against Andal Sr. and other members of the family for allegedly threatening to lead an uprising that will stop the government from arresting them in line with the massacre.

"They were not issued warrants of arrest for the murder, but there was already a finding of probable cause against them for murder. In finding probable cause, (Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes) said their continued detention should stay," Agra said in an interview with reporters.

Agra said state prosecutors are now mulling legal options to stop the release of the clan members following the decision of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 77 Judge Vivencio Baclig quashing the rebellion charges.

"We have some options. One, we request for their warrant of arrest for the murders. We can also ask custodians of the seven for their continued detention. We can also file a motion for reconsideration with (Judge Baclig) or elevate the case to the Court of Appeals for judicial determination of probable cause," he said.

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