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Lawyer: Estrada 'depressed' over Manila deaths

Estrada
Estrada is now at a detention center outside Manila  

MANILA, Philippines -- The lawyer for former Philippine President Joseph Estrada says his client is "depressed" over reports of casualties during protests by his supporters on the streets of Manila.

"He feels very bad and sad about developments in Malacanang (the presidential palace). He's really very, very depressed that some people have died and others, injured," Estrada lawyer Raymond Fortun told CNN. "He wishes that things can be better and no one else is hurt," Fortun said.

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Earlier Tuesday, Estrada issued a statement calling on police not to shoot at demonstrators, who he said were unarmed.

He also appealed for his supporters to remain calm.

Fortun said the former president is keeping up with the events now unfolding in Manila through a television set in his new cell.

Medical checks

In the early hours of Tuesday morning Estrada was moved from a Manila government hospital, where he had been undergoing medical checks, to another location about 80 kilometers outside Manila.

"He was roused from his sleep at 4 am, without any knowledge, and suddenly made to leave and whisked off in a helicopter," Fortun said.

Estrada supporters began round-the-clock protests after the former president was arrested on the charge of economic plunder last week.

Crowds had gathered at the same spot where anti-Estrada demonstrators called for his resignation in January -- the EDSA shrine in central Mania.

The site is also less than half a kilometer from where Estrada was being detained.

That prompted the anti-graft court to allow the Philippine National Police to transfer the former leader to a new place of detention "for his own protection."

Estrada was originally scheduled to appear before the anti-graft court or Sandiganbayan on Thursday, May 3.

But that date was moved to June 27, at the request of Estrada's lawyers.

Fortun says he wasn't present when the deferral was granted.

But he said the deferral had likely been requested because "there are a number of pending motions which the court cannot resolve -- i.e. the motion to have the plunder charge quashed, and a motion to request bail on behalf of (Estrada's son) Jinggoy."

Sources at the Sandiganbayan have said the court is not likely to have a hearing on Estrada's request for bail before the arraignment.



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