NBI files raps vs. 90 individuals over Mamasapano

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The Mamasapano clash resulted in the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers.

Metro Manila  (CNN Philippines) — Eight months after the bloody January 25 Mamasapano incident, the joint National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and National Prosecution Service (NPS) team has finally filed on Tuesday (September 22) criminal complaints against 90 individuals.

But this was a far cry from the "almost a thousand" mentioned by the five eyewitnesses who participated in the attack and killing of the 55th Special Action Company (SAC) commandos in Tukanalipao.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima explained the big disparity in the number of respondents was due to the fact that the witnesses cannot identify the others.

Of the 90 respondents, 26 were from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), 12 from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and 52 from private armed groups and unaffiliated individuals.

Thirteen MILF and six BIFF commanders were included in the complaint.

De Lima explained the respondents acted in conspiracy with one another to attack the commandos, so each of them was charged with 35 counts of direct assault with murder.

Related: Complex crime of direct assault with murder, theft

She added the direct assault became complexed with murder because they killed with qualifying circumstances of "treachery and abuse of superior strength."

Asked if this would affect the ongoing peace process with the MILF, De Lima said it would not.

She explained the panel will course the subpoena for the preliminary investigation against the MILF respondents through the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

"While we have their (respondents) identities, we don't have their addresses."

De Lima said a second criminal complaint involving the participation of Americans in the incident would be filed in two weeks.

Related: Cayetano wants to repoen Senate probe of Mamasapano clash