[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Arroyo pleads not guilty to poll fraud
Former Philippine president enters plea on the first day of a landmark trial.
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2012 03:08
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was president of the Philippines from 2001 to 2010 [Reuters]

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has pleaded not guilty to an electoral fraud charge at the opening of a landmark trial.

Arroyo was escorted early on Thursday under tight security to a Manila courtroom from a military hospital where she is being detained while undergoing treatment for a spine ailment.

"Not guilty," she said in court when asked to respond. If convicted, she could face life in prison.

After her appearance, which lasted only about 10 minutes, she was escorted back to the hospital.

She wore a neck brace and even managed to pose for souvenir photos with people in the courtroom, smiling and shaking hands with them.

Court spokeswoman Felda Domingo said the trial is historic because "the votes of the people were sabotaged and the accused is a former president".

Arroyo was president from 2001 to 2010. The case against her involves senatorial polls in 2007; she is accused of rigging the results to favour her candidates.

Her husband, Miguel Arroyo, called the case against his wife an injustice.

The case has emerged as a key test for her successor, President Benigno Aquino III, who has promised to root out corruption and said that no one should be allowed to evade justice.

The electoral sabotage charge is the first of several criminal cases being prepared against Arroyo.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.