MANILA, Philippines – Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., the primary suspect in the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao last year, pleaded not guilty yesterday to multiple counts of murder.
Ampatuan Jr., represented by lawyer Sigfrid Fortun as defense counsel, entered the plea of not guilty during the trial presided by Quezon City regional trial court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters at Camp Crame.
“Not guilty,” Fortun told the court when asked to enter a plea as Ampatuan Jr., dressed in a pink and white striped polo shirt, stood beside him.
“The accused was arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty for 41 counts of murder,” Solis-Reyes later announced before a jampacked court.
Solis-Reyes adjourned the hearing until Jan. 13 after the prosecution asked to present over a dozen witnesses to block Ampatuan’s application for bail.