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PIA Press Release

Court martial recommended for officers in failed coup

Quezon City (26 October) -- A COURT martial has been recommended by military prosecutors for Army Scout Ranger and Marine officers linked to a failed coup d'etat in February, a spokesman said Thursday.

But Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro refused to name who among the 38 officers would stand trial, pending Military Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr.ís approval of the recommendation submitted by the Judge Advocate Generalís Office (JAGO).

"The pre-trial investigation panel concluded that there exists probable cause and recommended trial by general court martial," Bacarro told a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

When asked who among the 38 officers were recommended to stand trial, Bacarro said: "Some names can be dropped [from the case]. The charges can also be changed."

Some of the accused include Major General Renato Miranda, the ex- Marine commandant; Brigadier General Danilo Lim, former commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment; and Colonel Ariel Querubin, the ex-chief of the 1st Marine Brigade.

Esperon has ordered the Staff Judge Advocate and his legal adviser to review the 200-page JAGO report, which includes 1,000 pages of attachments, Bacarro said.

"The Chief of Staff is committed to a speedy disposition of this case. At the same time, he will ensure that there is no compromise on fairness," Bacarro said.

In past interviews, Esperon declared that he would convene a court martial to try the suspected coup plotters, should military prosecutors recommend it.

During the pre-trial, the 38 officers were investigated for alleged violation of Articles of War 65 (willful disobedience of superior officer), 67 (attempting to begin or create mutiny), 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline).

Lim and Querubin, with Miranda's knowledge, allegedly planned to lead a mass withdrawal of support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last February 24, the 20th anniversary of the popular revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

On February 26, Querubin also led a standoff at Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio to protest Miranda's sudden relief.

On Wednesday, six of the 13 Marines detained at the Bonifacio Naval Station (BNS) staff house in Fort Bonifacio were transferred to the nearby Marines detention center after authorities uncovered an alleged plot to free them from detention.

The 25 Army Scout Rangers are detained in a maximum security facility at Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province. (PIA) [top]

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