Imelda Marcos acquitted of graft

MANILA (AFP) Former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos wept after a court acquitted her of graft charges, though many more cases against her are still pending.

Marcos, 76, broke down in tears when the verdict was read in the special anti-corruption court known as the Sandiganbayan.

The court ruled that her presence in 1977 on the board of a non-profit foundation that did consultancy work for the now defunct human settlements ministry, which she headed, did not constitute corruption.
The graft case is one of more than 500 civil and criminal suits filed against the former first family and the estate of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was toppled in a bloodless coup in 1986.

The Marcoses are accused of embezzling up to 10 billion dollars from state coffers during their 20 years in power.

“I thank the Lord for my acquittal and the vindication of the Technology Resource Center Inc., a truly humanitarian and compassionate program, for the Filipino people,” the widow, in a purple dress and a silk floral scarf, told reporters Friday.

A Marcos subordinate, former human settlements deputy minister Conrado Benitez, was also acquitted.

Imelda Marcos was chairman of the foundation while Benitez was its president when it did work for the human settlements ministry in 1977.

Imelda Marcos called on President Gloria Arroyo to order a government audit of the funds of the foundation, which was taken over by the government after the fall of the Marcos regime.

She alleged its original funds of 400 million pesos (eight million dollars) have been dissipated by managers appointed by subsequent governments.

She meanwhile dismissed suggestions that her acquittal was part of a deal with the Arroyo government, which has offered to settle the hundreds of cases against the Marcoses out of court.

“I’m cordial to everybody. I have always said that I don’t want a compromise. I wanted a legal resolution because I believe in the courage and integrity of our courts,” she said.


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