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Philippines officers apologize to court for attempted November coup

[JURIST] About one dozen officers on trial in the Philippines [JURIST news archive] in connection with a failed 2003 mutiny [BBC report] apologized to the court Tuesday for an aborted coup attempt [JURIST report] against Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [official website; BBC profile] last month. In a letter provided by their lawyers, the defendants said they walked out of court in the heat of the moment, and never intended to "cause a commotion." In November, the defendants walked out of court, took control of a Manila hotel, and demanded Arroyo's resignation. Philippine military and police forces subsequently regained control of the hotel after a lengthy confrontation. The Philippine government deployed over 1,000 soldiers and policemen to guard proceedings Tuesday in an effort to prevent a second walk-out by the defendants. AP has more. The Philippines Star has local coverage.

Last week, the officers and their supporters involved in the November coup attempt were formally charged with rebellion [JURIST report]. Among those charged were Sen. Antonio Trillanes [personal website], who had also been charged in the 2003 coup attempt, and former Vice President Teofisto Guingona [official profile]. In April, a Philippine military tribunal sentenced 54 military officers [JURIST report] to seven years and six months in prison for their involvement in the 2003 coup attempt. Charges were later dismissed [JURIST report] in October against four additional military officers connected to the same mutiny.

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