A retrial of former Philippines Senator Beningno Aquino, a leading political opponent of President Marcos, opened on Monday (5 December) before a seven man military tribunal at Fort Bonifacio Camp, near Manila.
A retrial of former Philippines Senator Beningno Aquino, a leading political opponent of President Marcos, opened on Monday (5 December) before a seven man military tribunal at Fort Bonifacio Camp, near Manila. Mr. Aquino, who has been in detention since martial law was declared five years ago, had been sentenced to death by firing squad last month on charges of murder, illegal possession of arms, and subversion. But President Marcos ordered the case to be re-opened.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Aquino and his legal advisers took their seats in a capacity-filled courtroom. The case has become a "cause celebre" and a number of those attending were foreign lawyers acting as observers. Among them were two representatives of the Geneva based International Commission of Jurists.
Many members of Philippine's dominant Roman Catholic Church were also present, as well as members of Mr. Aquino's family who showed their silent support by wearing special "Aquino" T-shirts.
After opening remarks by the prosecution, both Aquino and a civilian lawyer for one of his co-accused, issued challenges to members of the tribunal. They asked the court to decide if it could really give a fair trial after already passing the death sentence. But the tribunal declined to answer questions about its impartiality.
In his opening statement, Mr, Aquino said he wished to reserve his defence until after the Supreme Court had ruled on his appeal. He said that following last month's judgement, he was now being asked to prove his innocence in violation of the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. He said it was to the Supreme Court that he sought redress..not to president Marcos, who had acted on his own to re-open the case in an irregular manner.