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Former Philippines Governor Dies While on Trial for Murder

FIILE - Andal Ampatuan Sr. , center, a powerful Filipino clan leader who is a suspect in the 2009 massacre of 57 people, listens during his arraignment on electoral sabotage at the Pasay city regional trial court, south of Manila, Philippines, March 26, 2

The patriarch of a powerful Philippine clan, the main suspect in the 2009 massacre of a rival family and dozens of journalists, has died.

Andal Ampatuan Sr., the former governor of Maguindanao province on the southern island of Mindanao, died late Friday in a government hospital. He had been in a coma after suffering a recent heart attack.

Ampatuan, along with more than 100 other people, including several of his sons, was on trial, charged with multiple murder for killing 58 people, including 32 journalists, one of the worst political killings in the Philippines.

In November, 2009, the family of current Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, escorted by lawyers, supporters and the media, had been on the way to file his candidacy papers when witnesses say more than 100 people allegedly led by Andal Junior, blocked them, shooting them dead.

The trial in this case began in early 2010 and has moved extremely slowly. Attorneys from both sides have been pushing to move it along more quickly.

Journalism organizations have declared the Philippines one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists.