Uncontaminated Maguindanao massacre crime scene could have established accused's participation: expert


Posted at Dec 23 2019 09:11 AM | Updated as of Dec 23 2019 09:29 AM

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MANILA - The participation of all accused in the Maguindanao massacre could have been established with an uncontaminated crime scene, a forensic pathologist said Monday.

Five members of the powerful Ampatuan clan were convicted with 38 others last Thursday over the murder of 57 people, whose bodies were dumped in a shallow grave with a backhoe, in one of the worst election-related attacks in the Philippines.

But if authorities did a "careful" search of bullet casings, experts could have used firearms identification science, according to Raquel Fortun, one of only 2 forensic pathologists in the Philippines.

"To some extent, there seems to be some physical evidence, but you end up with more questions, which in hindsight could have been answered," she told ANC's Early Edition.

First responders, who were military personnel, "trampled" all over the crime scene instead of just securing the area, she added.

"They were videotaped doing what they should not be doing. Soldiers were walking around. What they should have done was to secure the scene," Fortun said.

"I understand there was a lot of pressure to do it fast because the areas were not safe. That should have been the first thing they did, secure the place so they would have the luxury of time, come up with a systematic approach to exhuming both the remains and the vehicles."

After securing the area, authorities should have first examined surface remains or bodies that were not buried, she said.

"Documented where they were, their relationship to one another. To some extent this was done and it helped me a lot," Fortun said.

The victims' bodies should have also been brought into one place instead of several funeral parlors, she added.

"It’s a typical Philippine case, unfortunately, where to some extent we seem to be doing things right, but having been trained outside, I want the standards to be way up here and I didn’t see that there just like in any other case," she said.