After being held prisoner in Barcelona, Rizal was ordered by General Eulogio Despujol that he would be shipped back to Manila via the transport ship Colon. On board the vessel, Rizal was told that the Madrid newspapers were full of stories about the revolution in the Philippines and were blaming him for it. News of Rizal's predicament reached his friends in Europe and Singapore. They dispatched telegrams to an English lawyer in Singapore to rescue Rizal from the Spanish steamer by means of a writ of habeas corpus. The writ, however, was denied and Rizal remained prisoner in the ship.
The Colon reached Manila on November 3, 1896 and Rizal was then quietly transferred to Fort Santiago. The preliminary investigation began a few days later, with Colonel Francisco Olive acting as the Judge Advocate. Two kinds of evidence were presented against Rizal, namely documentary and testimonial. Documentary evidence included letters which allegedly implicate Rizal in the Propaganda movement, several transcripts of speech wherein his name was used by the Katipunan, as well as several of his poems which were highly nationalistic in nature. Testimonial evidence, on the other hand, consisted of the oral testimonies of Rizal's various acquaintances.
After the preliminary investigation, the Judge Advocate General, Don Nicolas de la Peña, submitted the following recommendations: (1) the accused be immediately brought to trial; (2) he should be kept in prison; (3) an order of attachment be issued against his property as an indemnity; and (4) he should be defended in court by an army officer. Such army officer who acted as his defense counsel was Lt. Luis Taviel de Andrade, chosen by Rizal himself.
The information of charges was later on formally read to Rizal in his prison cell. He was accused of being "the principal organizer and the living soul of the Filipino insurrection, the founder of societies, periodicals and...