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.
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Nepal earthquake: The race is on to help thousands trapped under rubble around Kathmandu, while remote villages face a long wait for help
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...