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Damning testimony for Ampatuan clan at Maguindanao massacre trial

(RSF/IFEX) - "That's easy, father. We kill all of them when they come here." This is what Andal Ampatuan Jr allegedly told his father, the head of the Ampatuan clan, according to one of the first witnesses in the trial of the 196 clan members, mostly militiamen, who are charged with the November 2009 massacre of 57 civilians, including 32 journalists, in the southern province of Maguindanao.

The testimony, given by a former family employee who attended a meeting at the home of the leading defendant's father, then provincial governor Andal Ampatuan Sr, six days before the massacre, clearly indicated that the massacre was premeditated.

The former employee, Lakmudin Saliao, quoted the father as replying: "Do not entrust the roadblock to others. You yourself should stop them at the highway, near the place where a backhoe is conducting some diggings."

The subject of the alleged meeting was how the family should respond to a political rival's plans for a motorcade through the province led by the rival's wife, who was one of the victims. It was evident from Saliao's testimony that Andal Ampatuan Jr made it clear to his father that he intended to kill all of the motorcade's members, including journalists.

Saliao gave his evidence when the trial resumed on 8 September 2010 in Manila. Lawyers for the accused asked for a 10-day adjournment but Judge Jocelyn Reyer rejected the request.

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