Former Philippines president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to corruption charges before a special anti-graft court in the Philippines. The corruption charges stem from a government contract that Arroyo signed with a Chinese telecommunications company called ZTE Corporation [corporate website]. A Philippines congressional probe in 2007 found the $330 million deal that Arroyo signed with ZTE was overpriced and riddled with problems [AP report], including the allegation that Jose Miguel Arroyo accepted bribes to push through the contract. If convicted of corruption, the Arroyos could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
In March, the anti-graft court ordered the arrest of Jose Miguel Arroyo [JURIST report] on bribery charges relating to the ZTE contract. In February, former president Arroyo pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to electoral fraud charges. She and her husband tried to leave the country after the Philippines Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] allowing the travel outside of the country after which the Philippine authorities formally charged [JURIST report] the former president. In December, after the initial criminal complaint for charges of corruption and electoral fraud, Philippine authorities filed a second one [JURIST report] alleging bribery in the approval of multi-million deal with ZTE.