Philippine court finds Imelda Marcos guilty of graft

Imelda Marcos. Jonathan Cellona ABS-CBN News

The 89-year-old widow of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos was not present in court Friday when it was announced that she had been found guilty of seven counts of graft.

The Sandiganbayan anti-corruption court has ordered her to serve six to 11 years in jail for each of the seven counts of graft and barred her from ever running for office again.

Marcos faces arrest after the Sandiganbayan found her guilty of 7 counts of graft related to private organizations created in Switzerland while she was a government official from 1968 to 1986. She is also perpetually disqualified from holding any public office.

Marcos, a sitting three-term congresswoman, has registered as a candidate next May to succeed her daughter, Imee Marcos, 62, as governor of Ilocos Norte, the stronghold of the still powerful Marcos family. After an appeal the convictions were eventually quashed in the Supreme Court in 1998.

The charges relate to alleged illicit financial dealings with Swiss-based NGOs while serving in her husband's government in the 1970s and 80s.

The court has previously undone at least one case against Imelda, overturning a 24 year jail sentence in 1993 on graft charges.

Headway only began to be made in the case when the Swiss Federal Court ruled in 1997 "that the majority of the Marcos foundation assets were of criminal origin".

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Deputy Speaker and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro said that despite her conviction, Marcos will remain a member of the House of Representatives.

In this October 16, 2018, file photo, former Philippines first lady and widow of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Congresswoman Imelda Marcos arrives at the Commission on Elections.

"We presented former Prime Minister Cesar Virata, and according to his testimony eh hindinaman directly ma-pinpoint 'yung participation ni First Lady, so hindi ganun kasama ang loob namin as to the local corporations, (he can not directly pinpoint the participation of the First Lady, so we are not that dissatisfied with the results as to the local corporations)", he said.

The Marcos family is a known supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte.

A spokesman for the Philippine president indicated on Friday that Duterte will not intervene with the court on Imelda Marcos' behalf.

The court's decision came 27 years after the case was first filed.

"While we note that there are still legal remedies available to Congresswoman Marcos, this latest development underscores that our country now has a working and impartial justice system", Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement. They have denied any wrongdoing and have successfully fought many other corruption cases.

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