Estrada Refuses to Enter Plea in Philippines Corruption Trial
Defiant former Philippine president Joseph Estrada refused to enter a plea and raised bitter objections Tuesday as an anti-graft court opened his landmark trial for plunder, a crime punishable by death.
On the dock but without handcuffs, the jailed former movie star rose from his seat and told Manila's Sandiganbayan anti-graft court: "On the advice of my lawyers, I will not enter a plea."
Under Philippine law the crime of plunder is a capital offence, although the administration of Estrada's successor, Gloria Arroyo, has said it will not carry out any executions.
His co-defendants, son Jose Ejercito and former Estrada lawyer Edward Serapio, also refused to enter pleas. Justice Anacleto Badoy entered a plea of "not guilty" for all three defendants.
During the nearly three-hour court appearance, Estrada lashed out at government prosecutors, telling the justices he objected to references in formal charges that identified him using different aliases, Jose Velarde and Asiong Salonga – MANILA (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)