Court or­ders ar­rest of Imelda Mar­cos for graft

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - WORLD - By Ja­son Gu­tier­rez Ja­son Gu­tier­rez is a New York Times writer.

— A Philip­pine court on Fri­day sen­tenced Imelda Mar­cos, the coun­try’s flam­boy­ant for­mer first lady, to a min­i­mum of 42 years in prison for cre­at­ing pri­vate foun­da­tions to hide her un­ex­plained wealth.

But it is un­likely that Mar­cos, a 89-year-old widow, will see any jail time. The court, which han­dles graft and pub­lic cor­rup­tion cases, said the rul­ing could be ap­pealed, and le­gal ex­perts have said Mar­cos could fight a prison sen­tence be­cause of her ad­vanced age.

The sen­tence comes as Mar­cos and her fam­ily have seen a po­lit­i­cal resur­gence in the Philip­pines, hav­ing gained fa­vor un­der the pres­i­dency of Ro­drigo Duterte.

The court found Mar­cos guilty of seven counts of graft, with each count pun­ish­able by a min­i­mum of six years in prison. The rul­ing also au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fies Mar­cos, who is a con­gress­woman, from hold­ing any pub­lic of­fice.

Mar­cos did not ap­pear in court for the sen­tenc­ing, and a war­rant was is­sued for her ar­rest. In a state­ment later Fri­day, Mar­cos said her lawyer was study­ing the rul­ing and in­tended to file a mo­tion ask­ing the court to re­con­sider it.

The sen­tence drew praise from some lead­ing op­po­nents of Duterte, who has in the past praised the bru­tal dic­ta­tor­ship of Mar­cos’ de­ceased hus­band, Fer­di­nand Mar­cos.

The charges against Mar­cos took more than a quar­ter-cen­tury to pros­eMANILA cute, largely be­cause many peo­ple who could have been wit­nesses had died or were too old to tes­tify.

The charges were filed in 1991, when state pros­e­cu­tors ac­cused her of cre­at­ing pri­vate foun­da­tions in Switzer­land and hav­ing fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests in sev­eral com­pa­nies when she was gover­nor of Manila be­tween 1978 and 1984. Pros­e­cu­tors said the fake firms hid money that her fam­ily stole from the gov­ern­ment.

Noel Celis / AFP / Getty Images

A Manila pro­tester holds a photo of ex-first lady Imelda Mar­cos to mark her cor­rup­tion con­vic­tion.

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