The Straits Times
Published on Oct 29, 2012

Ex-Philippine leader pleads not guilty to plunder


MANILA, Philippines (AP) - A Philippine court entered a not-guilty plea on Monday for former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on charges she misused US$8.8 million (S$10.7 million) in state lottery funds in the third corruption case against her.

Arroyo is suffering from a neck ailment, and police brought her to the anti-graft court from a military hospital. She was admitted days before the court served the arrest warrant against her on plunder charges early this month and ordered her confined under guard.

Arroyo, 65, appeared in a wheelchair and wore a neck brace with a pink scarf. She refused to enter a plea and prompted the judge to record not guilty on her behalf. Nine other people, mostly former officials of the state lottery agency, also are charged in the case. They allegedly conspired with Arroyo during her last years in office to divert public funds for her personal gain.

If found guilty, they could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.