Court rules Arroyo can stay in hospital

Court rules former Philippine president facing vote-rigging charges can remain in hospital for "humanitarian reasons".

    More than a dozen activists protested Monday's decision and called for Arroyo to be locked up in jail [Reuters]

    A Philippines court has ruled that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the country's former president arrested last week, can stay at a Manila hospital until she is fit to be transferred to a detention facility.

    Arroyo was arrested at a Manila hospital on Friday on vote rigging charges over elections in 2007. She had been there since Tuesday night, when the government stopped her from boarding a flight at the airport

    A clerk for the court told reporters on Monday that it had agreed that Arroyo should remain in hospital "due to her health conditions and for humanitarian reasons".

    Lawyers for Arroyo meanwhile filed a petition seeking to have her arrest overturned.

    "We explained how they railroaded this case and did not give the respondent a chance to file a motion of reconsideration," one of Arroyo's lawyers, Raul Lambino, told reporters.

    More than a dozen activists protested Monday's court decision and demanded that Arroyo be locked up in jail.

    Police have already prepared a special air-conditioned cell for Arroyo, complete with a living room and a folding bed inside a small kitchen, according to Associated Press news agency.

    Benigno Aquino, the current Philippine president, has ordered that Arroyo be treated with respect but the government is accused by her lawyers of filing the charges with "indecent haste" to ensure Arroyo would spend Christmas in jail.

    Arroyo, 64, who was president from 2001 until 2010 and is now a member of the lower house of congress, remains under guard in her hospital room in Manila.

    She denies the allegations against her and says she needs to travel to seek medical treatment for a spine condition.

    The government believes she wants to evade investigation and possible prosecution.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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