MANILA -- State prosecutors asked a court hearing the Maguindanao massacre case to transfer an accused member of the Ampatuan clan back to his prison cell from a hospital to prevent his escape.
Former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan had been confined at the hospital since suffering from a stroke on Oct. 21, when he was moved from Camp Bagong Diwa, a police camp on the southern outskirts of the capital.
A verdict on the decade-old case is due in December. The ex-ARMM governor, his brother Andal Jr. are among those who were tried for the murder of 58 people, including 32 journalists in one of the world's worst cases of electoral violence.
Department of Justice prosecutors wrote the court that they were "apprehensive that his alleged hospital confinement under the cloak of being still undergoing continuous physical and occupational therapy may provide him all the opportunity for a convenient escape."
"It cannot be said that the promulgation of judgment on these cases is forthcoming with the prosecution’s strong belief of conviction for accused Zaldy Ampatuan," they said.
"The prosecution panel, therefore, is of the view that accused Zaldy Ampatuan would do any last ditch move towards his liberty, be it resorting to his act of taking flight," it added.
Ampatuan is undergoing physical and occupational therapy in Makati Medical Center, but prosecutors said this could be done in jail. They also noted that there was no definite date as to when he will finally be discharged.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes has until Dec. 20 to rule on the case.