[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
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.