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IFJ welcomes arraignment of key Ampatuan massacre suspects

(IFJ/IFEX) - May 31, 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the announcement of the arraignment of Andal Ampatuan Sr., one of the main suspects in the Ampatuan Town Massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists, on November 23, 2009.

Quezon City District Court Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes announced the June 1 arraignment of Ampatuan and nine other suspects on May 27, IFJ affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) reports.

However, the IFJ shares concerns expressed by the NUJP that another 21 suspects are yet to be arraigned, including five other members of the Ampatuan clan, who are accused of plotting the massacre.

The scheduling of their arraignment is dependent on the outcome of a motion which seeks to exclude them from the list of suspects. The motion argues a lack of probable cause for their involvement in the massacre and seeks the inhibition of Solis Reyes as the presiding judge in the trial.

"The IFJ is encouraged by this important milestone in the Ampatuan Massacre trial, and hopes to see the arraignment of all suspects proceed without further delay," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"We can only hope that the trial continues to progress from this point on for the sake of the victims' families."

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