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Outrage after third massacre witness slain

International group urges better protection for people testifying in trials

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • June 1, 2012
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An international journalists' group today urged the government to beef up protection for key witnesses following the reported brutal murder of a third witness in the ongoing Ampatuan massacre trial.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called for an immediate investigation into the reported killing of Esmail Enog, who testified in July last year in the trial of several suspects accused of murdering 58 people, including 32 journalists in November 2009, ahead of gubernatorial elections in Maguindanao province, in Mindanao.

Members of the powerful Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao were arrested and charged with carrying out the massacre.

“To ensure a fair and just trial of those charged with the Ampatuan massacre, it is crucial that the Philippines government protect the safety of all witnesses and their families,” IFJ Asia-Pacific director Jacqueline Park said in a statement posted on the group’s website today.

Engog was reportedly killed and his body cut into pieces in Mamasapano, in Maguindanao. He had been missing for around two months before police confirmed the murder, private prosecutor Nena Santos was quoted as saying on the Philippine Inquirer website.

Prosecutors first heard about the killing two weeks ago, she said.

Enog's murder comes two years after that of another key witness, Suwaib Upham.

Enog, a brother of Rakim Amil, one of the 100 suspects accused of the Ampatuan killings, had testified that he had driven 36 of the accused, four of whom he identified, to the massacre site.

The IFJ cited reports that Enog had returned to Maguindanao after testifying, having refused to be enrolled in the government’s witness protection program.

The IFJ also called on Aquino to “order the state’s security and law enforcement agencies to arrest all the remaining massacre suspects who remain at large.”

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