By Chito Chavez
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court on Monday turned down the appeal of Maguindanao massacre case principal accused Andal Ampatuan Jr. to have the trial of the 58 counts of murder charges filed against him re-opened due to lack of merit.
In a five-page order, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) Branch 221 has junked the motion to re-open trial with motion to suspend period to set promulgation of judgment filed by the accused through his legal counsel Paul Laguatan.
In the motion, Laguatan sought for the re-opening of the trial of the cases claiming prosecution witnesses, Sukarno Badal allegedly made his intention to recant his testimonies.
Ampatuan’s camp claimed that on Oct. 4, 2019, Badal allegedly contacted them through a representative, claiming that would want to recant his testimony.
Badal, who was the former vice mayor of Sultan sa Barong municipality, apparently told the accused representative that those he mentioned during the presentation of evidence against Ampatuan were not all true.
But during the hearing of the motion on Oct. 17, the prosecution opposed it claiming that there is no newly-discovered evidence to justify the re-opening of the trial.
The prosecution added that the supposed recantation of Badal is just an intention which can change overtime and that the accused should have secured the necessary judicial affidavit which should be attached to the motion.
During the hearing, Badal was called to the witness stand and denied having relayed to Ampatuan his intention to recant his testimony.
The witness further claimed that there is no truth to the statement in the motion saying that they were all made up by the accused to delay the case.
Badal also affirmed and confirmed all his testimonies in the proceedings of the cases.
The court also noted that despite the chance to conduct cross-examination on Badal, the accused lawyer chose not to do so.
“With the denial made by the prosecution witness Sukarno Badal of his intention to recant his previous testimony given on several dates, it is crystal clear that the ground relied upon by the accused-movant for the reopening of trial has no leg to stand on. Thus, the motion must perforce fail,” Reyes said in her order.
The trial of the cases has already culminated several months ago as the court is only now waiting for Ampatuan to submit his memorandum before it will set for the promulgation of the decision.