[JURIST] The Philippine Department of Justice (PDOJ) [official website] on Monday began the trial of over 600 people charged with rebellion for allegedly interfering with government operations following the November killings [PDOJ release] of 57 in the country's semi-autonomous province of Maguindanao. All but five of the accused missed a Monday deadline [Manila Standard Today report] to respond to the charges against them, and fewer than 40 of the suspects have been detained by police. If convicted, those charged could face as much as life in prison. Prosecutors also resumed Monday [Inquirer report] the trial of members of the influential Ampatuan family, who are charged with leading the politically-motivated killings.
Following the killings, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [official website] imposed martial law [JURIST report] and suspended habeas corpus in the province. She later lifted the conditions, following international pressure and domestic legal challenges [JURIST reports].