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Philippines court dismisses coup plot charges against lawmakers

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] ruled Friday that there was insufficient evidence [opinion text] to support charges of rebellion against six leftist congressional representatives alleged to have plotted a coup [JURIST report] to oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [official website; BBC profile] in 2006. The court held that probable cause could not be established. Early in the investigation, Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzalez [official profile] said that the Philippines Department of Justice [official website] would just declare probable cause, then leave it up to the court to decide. The court said this showed a pre-judgment determination to file the case even without probable cause, and urged strict adherence to the established procedures for filing criminal cases.

The alleged 2006 coup plot was not the first attempt to overthrow Arroyo's government. In 2003 approximately 300 soldiers from elite special forces took over buildings [BBC report] in Manila. In April, a Philippines military tribunal sentenced 54 of them [JURIST report] to seven years and six months each in jail. DPA has more.

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