Tue, November 22, 2011
World > Asia-Pacific

Arroyo mugshots released in Philippines

2011-11-22 07:42:04 GMT2011-11-22 15:42:04(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Front page of a Manila newspaper is seen here on November 19, carrying a digitally manipulated photograph of former Philippine president Gloria Arroyo behind bars while wearing a neck brace. The ailing 64-year-old ex-president faces a possible life sentence if convicted by the lower court in Manila on vote-rigging charges

Ex-Philippine president Gloria Arroyo's lawyer expressed outrage Tuesday that police mugshots taken of her in hospital after she was arrested on election cheating charges were leaked to the media.

The three photos show a tired-looking Arroyo, who says she is suffering from a life-threatening bone disease, wearing a bulky neck brace and head strap with her unbrushed black hair showing flecks of grey.

"The former president does not deserve this and neither should an ordinary person be subjected to this because everyone is entitled to a presumption of innocence," one of Arroyo's lawyers, Ferdinand Topacio, said on GMA television.

"Every person should be treated with dignity, be they former presidents or ordinary labourers. Our judicial system is supposed to operate on that principle."

The photos were taken on Saturday at an exclusive Manila hospital, a day after she was charged with conspiring to rig the 2007 senatorial election.

Although court officials and the government said the mugshots would not be released to the media, they appeared on the front page of one of the Philippines' biggest-selling daily newspapers on Tuesday.

They also appeared on the www.mugshots.com website and were quickly shared around social media sites such as Facebook.

Court officials and local police who were meant to be in charge of the photos denied Tuesday on local television that they had leaked them.

Arroyo, 64, who served as president from 2001 until the middle of last year, could face life in jail if she is found guilty.

Her successor, President Benigno Aquino, has also vowed to have her charged for a wide range of other corrupt acts she allegedly committed while in power.

Aquino won the presidential elections last year in a landslide after promising to stamp out corruption that is rampant across all sectors of Philippine society.

He has made pursuing Arroyo the top priority of his anti-graft campaign.

Arroyo has denied all the allegations and her lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to throw out the vote rigging charges.

The Supreme Court justices ruled on Tuesday that they would hear the case on November 29.

Relatives of 57 people killed in the Philippines' worst political massacre plan to also sue Arroyo for arming and supporting the alleged murderers, their lawyer said Tuesday.

The civil suit will seek 15 million pesos ($345,000) in damages.

The lawyer for the victims' relatives, Harry Roque, said the lawsuit would be filed at a Manila court on Tuesday afternoon, deliberately timed just ahead of Wednesday's two-year anniversary of the massacre.

Government prosecutors allege that leaders of the Ampatuan family, who ruled the southern province of Maguindanao, orchestrated the massacre to stop a political rival from challenging them in local elections.

"She enabled the Ampatuans to do what they did by arming them, by legitimising their private army, by giving them aid and by giving them political support," Roque told AFP.

The patriarch of the family, Andal Ampatuan Snr, was governor of Maguindanao and a member of Arroyo's ruling coalition at the time of the massacre.



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