A Philippine court on Friday sentenced former first lady Imelda Marcos to a minimum of 42 years in prison for creating private foundations to hide her unexplained wealth.
The court also ordered her arrest in a rare conviction among many corruption cases that she’s likely to appeal to avoid jail and losing her seat in Congress.
The special anti-graft Sandiganbayan court sentenced Marcos to serve 6 to 11 years in prison for each of the seven counts of violating an anti-corruption law when she illegally funneled about $200 million to Swiss foundations in the 1970s as Metropolitan Manila governor.
Neither Marcos nor anyone representing her attended Friday’s court hearing. No one has issued any reaction on her behalf although her lawyers were expected to appeal the ruling, which anti-Marcos activists and human rights victims welcomed as long overdue.
The court disqualified Marcos from holding public office, but she can remain a member of the powerful House of Representatives while appealing the decision.
Her congressional term will end next year but she has registered to run to replace her daughter as governor of northern Ilocos Norte province.
Imelda Marcos’ husband was ousted by an army-backed “people power” revolt in 1986. He died in self-exile in Hawaii in 1989 but his widow and children returned to the Philippines. Most have been elected to public offices in an impressive political comeback.
Government prosecutor Ryan Quilala told reporters that Marcos and her husband opened and managed Swiss foundations in violation of the Philippine Constitution, using aliases in a bid to hide stolen funds. The Marcoses have been accused of plundering the government’s coffers amid crushing poverty. They have denied any wrongdoing and have successfully fought many other corruption cases.
Marcos was acquitted in three other cases, which were filed in 1991 and took nearly three decades of trial by several judges and prosecutors. She was once convicted of a graft case in 1993, but the Supreme Court later cleared her of any wrongdoing.