Former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos convicted of graft

Ex-Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos faces years behind bars

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.

She was sentenced in absentia to six to 11 years in prison on each count.

The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division also ordered the issuance of an arrest warrant against Mrs. Marcos.

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.

"She can elevate it to the Supreme Court if she sees grave abuse of discretion in the Sandiganbayan's decision".

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Imelda was also charged for having "financial interests" in companies while in office from 1968 to 1986. She was once convicted of a graft case in 1993, but the Supreme Court later cleared her of any wrongdoing.

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

Quilalasaid Marcos is still free to run as Ilocos Norte Governor in 2019, as long as she posts a cash bond before the Sandiganbayan while appealing the decision.

The court's decision came almost three decades after the case was filed.

Quilala said that he considers her Swiss account convictions as a "victory" despite her acquittal in three other graft charges.

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Imelda Marcos was the governor of metropolitan Manila during the 1970s when she committed the offenses she was sentenced for on Friday, a scheme that involved shifting about $200 million out of the Philippines and stashing the money in Swiss foundations. President Rodrigo Duterte counts the family among his supporters and has expressed admiration for Ferdinand Marcos.

The family's notoriety stems back to Ferdinand Marcos declaring martial law in 1972.

"Duterte's spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said in a statement the ruling against Imelda Marcos was proof that the executive "is not in the business of exerting undue interference or influence" on courts, and therefore respects the decision".

The guilty verdict against Imelda is the first to hold her criminally liable for hiding stolen wealth in Switzerland using shell foundations.

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