Court postpones Roxas blast hearing

THE REGIONAL Trial Court (RTC) Branch 33 postponed yesterday’s supposed hearing on the appealof Mohammad Abdul Jabbar Sema, the son of a ranking Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) leader, for the determination of probable cause in connection to the Roxas Night Market explosion.

But presiding Judge Lope Callo did not give specific date on the next hearing for the omnibus motion for judicial determination of probable cause filed by Sema, aka Datu Masla Sema and DM.

The 26-year-old Sema is the son of former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin Sema, who is the chairman of an MNLF faction, and Maguindanao 1st District Representative Bai Sandra Sema.

Sema’s legal panel has filed a motion for judicial determination and request to dismiss the case against the respondent for alleged lack of probable cause.

Insisting on Sema’s innocence, the counsel claimed it will spare him from “expensive” court proceedings as he and his counsel are not based in Davao.

In the judicial determination of probable cause, the judge will ascertain whether a warrant of arrest should be issued against the accused. The judge must satisfy himself that based on the evidence submitted, there is necessity for placing the accused under custody in order not to frustrate the ends of justice. If the judge finds no probable cause, the judge cannot be forced to issue the arrest warrant. Thus, the case will be dismissed.

Sema is one of the 14 respondents charged by the government prosecutors for multiple murders and multiple attempted murders in connection with the Sept. 2 Roxas Night Market blast that killed 15 persons and injured 69 others.

The court has already issued a warrant of arrest against the 14 others, but withheld the issuance against Sema as his counsel filed the request.

Sema, tagged to have urged his follow accused to bomb Davao City, was arrested by the authorities at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Nov. 24, 2016, or 83 days after the bombing.

Sema’s whereabouts is currently undisclosed.

In filing the case in court, government prosecutors relied on the extra-judicial testimonies of Jackson Mangulamas Usi, aka Abu Mansur and Jam, and Ausa Abdullah Mamasapano, aka Abu Hamsa.

The two claimed it was Sema who suggested to them to plant the bomb in Davao City because it is the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, and to compel the government to cut the military forces in Basilan which at that time was fighting the Abu Sayyaf Group. The bomb was supposed to be used in Cotabato.

Sema’s counsel wanted the court to issue a subpoena for Mangulamas and Mamasapano so they could be cross-examined during the hearing of the plea. The motion was, however, opposed by the prosecution panel, claiming that they should instead be presenting during the proper court trial.

Usi and Mamasapano are detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

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