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Philippines court dismisses coup conspiracy charges against lawmakers

[JURIST] A court in the Philippines has dismissed charges against five lawmakers who were accused of taking part in a coup conspiracy [JURIST report] to overthrow the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [official website; JURIST news archive]. The five members of the Philippines House of Representatives [official website] had taken refuge in the Congress building since the end of February in order to avoid arrest. Philippines Justice Minister Raul Gonzalez [official profile] confirmed Sunday that the charges had been dropped [AP report], and the five lawmakers emerged from the building Monday.

Arroyo declared a state of emergency [Proclamation 1017 text; JURIST report] after discovering the coup plot in February, which was in place for a week until officials determined the threat had subsided. A court in Manila has dismissed charges against over 40 former lawmakers, military officials and rebel leaders implicated in the alleged conspiracy [JURIST report], though Gonzalez said that prosecutors plan to either appeal the court's decision or file new charges. AP has more.

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