September 1 has been set as the opening trial date for 17 men accused of murder and other crimes in the killing of 57 people - 32 of them journalists or media workers--in southern Philippines in November 2009, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports. Quezon City Regional Trial Court Justice Jocelyn Solis-Reyes set the date in a pre-trial hearing in the Manila suburb of Taguig City, in a secure courtroom at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. The venue for the cases had been moved from Maguindanao province in the Philippines' southernmost island of Mindanao to the jurisdiction of the Quezon City court in Manila to ensure a fair trial. Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator, who attended the pre-trial hearing, said:"It is encouraging to see the trial for the Maguindanao massacre move ahead quickly. Because of the scope of the killings and the complexity of the case authorities must work hard to maintain the momentum. President Aquino's government must make sure that all sides stay focused on a fast but fair trial, and strive to bring the people who plotted these killings--not just the triggermen--to justice."
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