[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
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list