Maguindanao massacre trial ends, verdict seen by November

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — The Department of Justice expects the Maguindanao massacre to be resolved by November, 10 years after the gruesome mass killing.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday announced that the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 wrapped the trial up on July 17.

"The parties were given until 15 August 2019 to submit simultaneously their respective memorandum or written summation, after which the case shall be considered as submitted for decision, with or without the memoranda of the parties," Guevarra said in a statement.

"The DOJ expects that a judgment will be rendered before the 10th anniversary of the infamous massacre on 23 November 2019, and that justice will finally be served," he added.

The Maguindanao or Ampatuan massacre in 2009 left 58 people dead, including 32 media workers, some civilians, and some members of the Mangudadatu family – a rival political family of the Ampatuans. Relatives of then Maguindanao gubernatorial bet Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu, accompanied by a convoy of journalists, were on their way to file his candidacy for the 2010 elections when they were attacked by gunmen, allegedly from the Ampatuan family. The corpses of the victims were found, shallowly buried, in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province.

Only 116 of the 197 original suspects facing multiple murder charges over have been arrested. Of this number, 107 remain on trial while five were dismissed. This includes the primary suspect, Andal Ampatuan, Sr. who died in 2015 due to complications from liver cancer. The major suspects now are his sons, former Datu Unsay town Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan, Jr. and former Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan.

Guevarra was earlier quoted as saying the evidence is "very strong" against Andal Ampatuan, promising a resolution within 2019.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.