Massacre witnesses to be presented via video conference

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Monday, December 16, 2013

THE prosecution panel of the Maguindanao massacre case on Monday sought a Quezon City court's permission to allow them to present a witness who is based abroad via a video call or video conferencing.

In a three-page manifestation and motion to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court branch 221, private prosecutor Harry Roque said the scarcity of resources to fly witnesses Myrna Reblando and Reynafe Momay-Castillo back to the country prompted them to file the request.

Reblando, wife of Manila Bulletin reporter Alejandro "Bong" Reblando, one of the 58 massacre victims, fled the country and currently has a pending petition for asylum before the Hong Kong government.

During the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the November 23, 2009 massacre, her son Alejandro Jr. said Reblando fled to ensure the safety of her family.

Momay-Castillo meanwhile is now in the United States where she is working.

She is the daughter of alleged 58th victim Reynaldo "Bebot" Momay, whose remains were never found but whose dentures were recovered by forensic experts at the crime scene.

The panel has asked Quezon City RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to allow the said witnesses to testify via video conferencing or any other similar means.

"Video-conferencing will allow the court to still closely observe the demeanor of the witness and the defense will most certainly be able to conduct their cross-examination of the witness as well," the motion read.

"This will allow the witnesses to be able to testify at the soonest possible time after the Court resumes trial after the Christmas break," it further said.

The prosecution, however, asked the court to set the presentation of the said witnesses after Christmas, since lawyers representing the private complainants including Roque and prosecutor Ethel Avisado will be out of the country until December 19.

"Other lawyers in the same office are also scheduled to attend hearings and trials in the cases that they are handling," read the motion.

The court has yet to resolve the request. (Sunnex)

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