Asia

Sixth Philippine massacre witness killed

  • 28 June 2012
  • From the section Asia
Police inspect the bodies in hillside grave in Ampatuan, Maguindanao province
The powerful Ampatuan clan is accused of being behind the killings of 57 people in 2009

Another potential witness in a trial over the massacre of 57 people in the Philippines has been killed, an official says.

Alijol Ampatuan is the sixth person among witnesses, potential witnesses or their relatives killed since the case went to court in 2010, said prosecutor Nena Santos.

The man was a victim of a drive-by shooting in February, she said.

He was related to the powerful Ampatuan clan, accused of the 2009 killings.

Prosecutors had wanted to approach the man, who was alleged to have sent gunmen to take part in the massacre, to testify at the trial as a state witness.

Andal Ampatuan Jr and five other members of the Ampatuan family - including patriarch Andal Ampatuan Snr - are among 196 people facing charges related to the massacre.

The dead included many female members of a rival political family, the Mangudadatus, as well as 30 reporters travelling with them.

The massacre took place as the Mangudadatu group travelled to file candidacy papers for a provincial election.

Human Rights Watch says that whoever is behind the killings is sending a clear message of intimidation.

The rights group has warned that other witnesses will not come forward if the Philippine government does not offer better protection, reports the BBC's Kate McGeown in Manila.

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