A QUEZON City trial court has rejected a plea by the primary suspect in the massacre of more than 50 people in Maguindanao province to re-open the trial.

In a five-page order, Judge Jocelyn A. Solis-Reyes also denied Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr.’s motion to suspend judgment on the 10-year-old case.

The prime suspect earlier claimed a prosecution witness had contacted his representative saying he wanted to recant his testimonies against him.

But the court said this had been denied by the witness in open court. “With the denial made by prosecution witness Sukarno Badal of his intention to recant his previous testimony given on several dates, it is crystal clear that the ground relied upon by the accused-movant for the reopening of trial has no leg to stand on,” it said.

Mr. Ampatuan is among the main suspects in the massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists, in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province on Nov. 23, 2009.

The ambush took place when media accompanied then gubernatorial candidate Esmael G. Mangudadatu and his family to the election body where he was to file his certificate of candidacy. Mr. Mangudadatu was then planning to challenge Datu Unsay for governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The Justice department expects a decision on the case before the 10th anniversary of the murders.

Andal Ampatuan, Sr., father of Mr. Ampatuan and the alleged mastermind of the massacre, died of cancer in 2015. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas