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Estrada won't resist arrest: lawyer

Phil. Estrada
Estrada appeared at the anti-graft court on Monday to post bail for an arrest warrant served earlier  

MANILA, Philippines -- Former Philippine president Joseph Estrada will not resist arrest if served a warrant on a charge of economic plunder, which carries the death penalty, his lawyer has said.

"He (Estrada) will not fight, he will voluntarily surrender," attorney Raymond Fortun told a radio station as an anti-graft court studied prosecution evidence related to accusations that Estrada illegally amassed more than four billion pesos ($80 million) while in office.

Economic plunder is a non-bailable offence which carries the penalty of life imprisonment to death. No one has ever been convicted of the offence.

It is not known when the court would decide if there was adequate evidence to prosecute Estrada and order his arrest. Asia
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The chief justice of the Philippines' anti-graft court, Francis Garchitorena, told CNN that while "[people] can begin to speculate on Monday, they cannot speculate about Monday."


"There is plenty of evidence to sift through, and we're going to do it right. The third division [which is handling Estrada's plunder charge] is taking the case very seriously," he said.

Clear conscience

Estrada, a former movie actor, has denied any wrong-doing, saying his conscience was clear and he has vowed to fight any charges in court.

Estrada was forced from power in January at the peak of a popular revolt in which hundreds of thousands of people poured onto the streets of Manila demanding his resignation.

Although economic plunder is a non-bailable offence, Estrada's lawyers have said they will petition the court to allow him provisional liberty, citing laws which, they contend, allow a person charged with a capital offence to post bail if the evidence against him is not strong.

The lawyers also said they would ask the court, if it orders Estrada's detention, to keep him under house arrest as part of courtesies due a former president.

Estrada is facing seven other lesser criminal charges ranging from perjury to graft.

A division of the anti-graft handling one of the graft cases ordered Estrada's arrest last week but the former leader promptly turned himself in and posted bail.

Estrada has been barnstorming the country in recent weeks campaigning for his party's candidates in May 14 legislative elections. His wife, Luisa, is running for a seat in the Senate.

Estrada still enjoys significant support, especially in the country's slum communities. He has appealed to his supporters to stay calm if he is arrested.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Estrada tells loyalists to remain calm
April 19, 2001
Riots feared as Estrada awaits plunder arrests
April 18, 2001
Cases withdrawn against Estrada may be revived
April 18 ,2001
Estrada to file new motion with anti-graft court
April 17, 2001
Estrada faces anti-graft court
April 17, 2001

Philippine Daily Inquirer

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