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Philippines hands Imelda Marcos lengthy prison term in graft case

5 month ago, 09-Nov-2018

File photo shows Marcos waving to the crowd as she arrives for her son vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jnrs miting-de-avance in Manila. AFP photo

MANILA:Imelda Marcos was found guilty of corruption yesterday and handed a lengthy prison term in a rare conviction for the former Philippine first lady accused with her late dictator husband of embezzling billions of dollars from state coffers.

However, it was unlikely 89-year-old Marcos would spend much time behind bars as she is allowed to appeal the ruling and can remain free on bail as long as the conviction is not final.

The verdict from the anti-graft Sandiganbayan court orders her to serve a minimum of six years behind bars for each of the seven charges that the Marcoses funnelled roughly US$200 million through Swiss foundations decades ago.

This leaves her potentially facing decades in prison, however the exact length of the term was not immediately clear.

Ferdinand Marcos, who along with his cronies was accused of pilfering US$10 billion from the Philippines, fled with his family to the US after a peoples uprising ended his 20-year rule in 1986.

Marcos died in 1989 while still in exile. But his heirs later returned to Manila and have since staged a political comeback. Imelda Marcos is currently a congresswoman.

As a government official in the Marcos administration, Imelda was barred by law from having any financial interest from the Swiss foundations, said the ruling.

The couple opened all those accounts in Switzerland, and they used pseudonyms to hide their ownership. The president chose William Saunders and Imelda Marcos used Jane Ryan, special prosecutor Ryan Quilala told reporters.

Her lawyers could not be reached, while a press aide told AFP there was no immediate comment.

Marcos critics rejoiced at the news of the conviction, which came nearly three decades after the case was filed in 1991.

This points to how long and therefore frustrating the Philippine judicial system is, said opposition lawmaker Francis Pangilinan.

We hope our courts will see this through… and give no special treatment to Mrs Marcos, he added.

Court officials said Marcos, who was not at yesterdays hearing, would be able to avoid incarceration by posting an as yet undetermined bail. She has the right to appeal her conviction to the Supreme Court.

The court has previously undone at least one case against Imelda, overturning a 24 year jail sentence in 1993 on graft charges. She ran for congress and won while her appeal was underway. AFP


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