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Court Panel Says Marcos Guided Aquino Death Trial

July 31, 1986|United Press International

MANILA — A Supreme Court commission said today that deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos "stage-managed" the acquittals of 26 men last year for the assassination of opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr. and it urged a new trial, raising the possibility of charges against Marcos.

In a 63-page report climaxing a month-long inquiry, the commission recommended that the full Supreme Court declare a mistrial because the anti-graft court that tried defendants in the Aug. 21, 1983, assassination "acted under the compulsion of some pressure."

"It is abundantly clear that President Marcos did not only give instructions as to how the case should be handled, he saw to it that he would know if his instructions would be complied with," said the commission headed by retired Justice Conrado Vasquez.

Aquino, Marcos' main political foe at the time, was shot moments after he stepped off a plane on his return from three years of self-exile in the United States to unify the divided opposition forces.

The murder sparked massive protests against Marcos and thrust Aquino's wife, Corazon, to the forefront of the opposition campaign and into the presidency.

Marcos' military chief, Gen. Fabian Ver, 24 other soldiers and a civilian stood trial on the recommendation of a civilian fact-finding board in 1984 but were acquitted Dec. 2, 1985, by the anti-graft court.

State prosecutor Raul Gonzales said if the Supreme Court declares a mistrial, Marcos may be charged as an accessory.

"My preliminary assessment is that on the basis of the evidence in my possession and in the light of the revelations of (trial prosecutor Manuel) Herrera that Mr. Marcos is indictable as an accessory to the crime for the obstruction of justice," he said.

Herrera's disclosures in March that Marcos directed judges and prosecutors to "play act" the trial prompted the Supreme Court to form the commission investigating the case. Much of its conclusions rely heavily on two weeks of testimony from Herrera.

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