Armed Forces Chief Gen. Fabian Ver slipped into a courthouse today to be charged with trying to cover up the military's involvement in the 1983 assassination of opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr.
Ver, 64, a four-star general and trusted aide to President Ferdinand Marcos, eluded photographers as he entered the courthouse, where he was formally charged, fingerprinted and freed on $1,500 bail.
Ver was charged on two counts of accessory to murder in the Aug. 21, 1983, slaying of Aquino--Marco's chief political foe--and of Rolando Galman, the man the military blamed for the slaying.
"We want him to be treated like any other citizen. We don't want to pull rank on anyone," said Ver's lawyer, Prospero Crescini. "He went through the whole process personally, was fingerprinted and posted bail."
If convicted, Ver could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. He has denied any involvement in the assassination.
Military Asks Custody
Military authorities requested permission to take custody of the remaining officers and soldiers charged in the case, making it unlikely that any of the suspects will be jailed while the trial is in progress, the state-run Philippine News Agency said.
Police served arrest warrants earlier in the day on Ver, 24 other military officers and soldiers, and one Manila businessman who were indicted Wednesday in the case by a special prosecutor.
The indictments upheld the results of a civilian fact-finding commission that in October blamed the military for killing Aquino on his return from three years of self-exile in the United States.
Aquino was shot in the head after he disembarked from the airline at Manila airport. Galman, who the military claimed killed Aquino, was killed by soldiers seconds later.