Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Erap Gets Life

Deposed Philippine president given life sentence for plunder

A Philippine court convicted deposed President Joseph Estrada of plunder and sentenced him to life in prison Wednesday, following a six-year trial in which the constitutionality of the law was challenged.

Estrada, 70, was found not guilty of perjury. Prosecutors alleged he falsely declared his financial assets.

In a phone interview with CNN, Estrada said the next step for his legal team would be to appeal his conviction in the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court to the country's Supreme Court.

"It's not yet the end of the road, we still have (an) option to appeal our case to the Supreme Court," the former president said.

Estrada's son Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada and Attorney Edward Serapio were co-defendants in the case, but were acquitted of the plunder charges.

Prosecutors, however, lauded the decision in news reports. "This is the last chance for the state to show that we can do it, that we can charge, prosecute and convict a public official regardless of his stature," special prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio said in an Associated Press report. "It shows that our judicial system really works."