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Philippines officers change pleas for 2003 coup attempt charges

[JURIST] Eleven former military officers facing a court-martial on charges related to their roles in a 2003 coup attempt [BBC report] changed their pleas from not guilty to guilty Tuesday. The 11 are charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, and are also set to be tried in a civilian court for the same activities. No shots were fired during the failed coup, in which the officers commandeered a Manila hotel, demanded the resignation of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [official website; BBC profile], threatened to set off explosives, and held off police for 19 hours before surrendering. Ten of the 11 officers were also involved in a similar incident in 2007, when about a dozen officers walked out of court [JURIST report] and took over a hotel, again demanding Arroyo's resignation. AFP has more. The Philippine Daily Inquirer has local coverage.

Nine other officers who had originally pleaded not guilty changed their pleas [JURIST report] in April, though no plea agreement had been made with prosecutors. Two officers were given life sentences, while another seven each received 12-year sentences. Last year, 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] against four additional military officers connected to the same mutiny. Six others are still pleading not guilty.

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