10 Feb 2010

More charges laid over massacre

6:08 am on 10 February 2010

The Philippines has charged 196 more people with murder over a pre-election massacre in Maguindanao province in November which left 57 dead.

Those charged include Andal Ampatuan senior, the head of a powerful clan and a former ally of President Gloria Arroyo.

He has served in the Philippines Congress and held the governorship of Maguindanao unopposed for several terms.

Bodies of the victims were found in a mass grave in a secluded mountainous area.

The BBC reports it was unclear how many of the accused were already in police custody, but all are expected to seek bail.

A lawyer representing the families of some of the victims says the trials could take years.

Mr Roque says bail proceedings have been known to take as long as two months for one defendant, so it'll be a challenge for the government to get swift convictions.