Arroyo's ally to be charged over massacre
Suspect accused of killing political rivals in Philippines hands himself over to police
Andal Ampatuan Jnr, the member of a powerful pro-government clan suspected of involvement in the massacre of 57 people in an election caravan in the southern Philippines earlier this week, will be charged with murder today, the Philippines' chief prosecutor said yesterday. Mr Ampatuan turned himself in amid mounting pressure on President Gloria Arroyo to crack down on lawlessness and warlords.
The dead from Monday's massacre included at least 18 journalists and the wife, family and dozens of supporters of a candidate for governor who wanted to challenge the rival Ampatuan clan, which has ruled Maguindanao province unopposed for years. Mr Ampatuan, a town mayor, allegedly stopped the convoy with dozens of police and pro-government militiamen.
Asked by reporters if he was involved in the killings, Mr Ampatuan, who tried to hide his face with a scarf, replied: "There is no truth to that. The reason I came out is to prove that I am not hiding and that I am not guilty."
His surrender followed days of discussions between his family and Jesus Dureza, a presidential adviser, apparently in an attempt to prevent hostilities breaking out between the clan's followers and government forces.
The area around the provincial capital was tense after troops disarmed nearly 400 pro-government militiamen loyal to the Ampatuans. Such militias are meant to act as an auxiliary force to the military and police in fighting rebels and criminals but often serve as politicians' private armies. The military deployed tanks and truckloads of troops throughout the province under a state of emergency to hunt down the attackers and prevent retaliatory violence from the victims' clan.
The Ampatuan clan helped President Arroyo and her allies win the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections by delivering crucial votes. But in an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Ms Arroyo's ruling party expelled Mr Ampatuan, his father and a brother.
Police and soldiers on Wednesday found 11 more bodies at the site of the attack, bringing the death toll to 57. Six of the bodies were discovered in a large pit, buried alongside three vehicles, and five were found in a nearby mass grave.
The vehicles – a sedan and two vans – were crushed by a large mechanical digger that ran over and buried them, investigator Jose Garcia said.
Police Chief Superintendent Felicisimo Khu said they did not expect to find any more bodies.
Ms Arroyo has come under intense pressure at home and abroad to seek justice for the victims of the massacre, with the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and media and human-rights watchdogs voicing their concern over the scale of the killings.
The candidate, Ismael Mangudadatu, had received death threats and sent his wife and relatives to submit his candidacy on Monday in the convoy that was ambushed. Mr Mangudadatu said that four people whom he refused to identify told him that Mr Ampatuan was seen with the gunmen.
Ms Arroyo promised justice for the victims. Few, however, think she will be able to restore the rule of law in the impoverished region that has been outside the central government's reach for generations. Six senior police officers, including the provincial police chief and his deputy, 20 members of Ampatuan township's police station and 347 militiamen were in custody.
Wellcome Image Awards: The most striking images from the world of science, including breast cancer cells under chemical attack and a photographer’s own kidney stone
Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Terrorism explanation 'cannot be ruled out', says CIA
Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
Oscar Pistorius murder trial: Athlete repeatedly sick as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's post-mortem
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: One of the largest mobile advert...
£20000 - £23000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client specialises in creati...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Private Cli...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residential...