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Key witness in Ampatuan massacre case shot dead

(SEAPA/IFEX) - 24 June 2010 - A witness in the massacre of 57 people, including 32 journalists, in Mindanao, Philippines has been killed, media reports said.

Agence France Presse said Suwaib Upham was shot dead last week. Upham, who had admitted he was one of the gunmen, accused his former employers, the powerful Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao province, of orchestrating the slaying of key members of a rival clan and 32 journalists on 23 November 2010.

The "Philippine Daily Inquirer" quoted lawyer Harry Roque, who represents the families of several of the victims, as saying Upham's killing might weaken the case against the Ampatuans.

"He was supposed to be one of our strongest witnesses," Roque said. He saw, and participated in, the killings and could have directly named in court those involved."

A few months ago, the uncle of another witness was also shot dead in Mindanao.

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