Filipino Prosecutors Protest Gov't Clearing of Clan Leaders in Political Massacre

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MANILA -- The Philippines' top state prosecutors publicly defied their superior, Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra, over his controversial resolution last Friday clearing two prominent Ampatuan clan members of involvement in the massacre in Maguindanao last November.

Chief State Prosecutor Claro Arellano led the protest of state prosecutors over Agra's resolution absolving Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy “Puti” Ampatuan and his cousin, Mayor Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan Sr. of Mamasapano, Maguindanao of murder charges.

"We are deeply concerned that the resolution will all the more convince a long skeptical public that our criminal justice system is impotent when the accused are politically influential,” Arellano said in a statement he read Monday morning.

Arellano issued the statement on behalf of the members of the National Prosecution Service and the panel of prosecutors handling the multiple murder case filed against 197 suspects, including members of the Ampatuan clan and their supporters, for what has been considered the most brutal election-related killings committed in memory.

Disputing Agra's claim that there was no witness against Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan, Arellano said there was a witness who positively identified the two as among those who conspired to murder 57 people, 31 of whom were journalists, to prevent a gubernatorial political rival from running against Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.