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Philippines court grants bail to former president

A regional court of the Philippines on Tuesday granted bail to former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] who was detained on electoral fraud charges. The court reasoned that the evidence, based mainly on a single witness' testimony, was insufficient to bring the charges against the former president who was in office from 2001 to 2010. She was released from the army hospital where she had been detained since December of last year and was moved to her residence. Arroyo posted bail in the amount of 1 million pesos (USD $23,800). While the court accepted her bail, it refused to grant the bail to Andal Ampatuan, former governor of the southern province of Maguindanao, and election official Lintang Bedol. On the same day, the country's anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan [official website], issued a travel ban prohibiting the former president to leave the country for medical treatment. It is expected that Arroyo will be detained again as the prosecution is seeking another arrest warrant against the former president for misusing state lottery funds. Arroyo has posted bail for three charges related to the acceptance of bribes to support the $329-million national broadband network deal with the Chinese company ZTE Corporation [corporate website].

Former president Arroyo has been a target of anti-corruption efforts by President Benigno Aquino [BBC profile]. Arroyo was arrested [JURIST report] in November on fraud and corruption charges in the hospital before she was able to leave the country to seek medical treatment. In April Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to corruption charges before a special anti-graft court in the Philippines. The non-guilty plea came a month after a Philippines court issued an arrest warrant [JURIST report] against Jose on bribery charges. He was accused of accepting bribes to support the $329-million national broadband network deal with ZTE Corporation. Arroyo faced the same charges in December when the country's authorities filed a second criminal complaint [JURIST report] against her alleging that she approved a $329-million national broadband network deal with the Chinese company in return for millions of dollars in kickbacks in 2008.

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