MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine court entered a not-guilty plea Monday for former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on charges she misused $8.8 million in state lottery funds in the third corruption case against her.
Arroyo is suffering from a neck ailment, and police brought her to the anti-graft court from a military hospital. She was admitted days before the court served the arrest warrant against her on plunder charges early this month and ordered her confined under guard.
Arroyo, 65, appeared in a wheelchair and wore a neck brace with a pink scarf. She refused to enter a plea and prompted the judge to record not guilty on her behalf. Nine other people, mostly former officials of the state lottery agency, also are charged in the case. They allegedly conspired with Arroyo during her last years in office to divert public funds for her personal gain.
If found guilty, they could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Arroyo's lawyers say the witnesses against her had no personal knowledge of the transactions of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. They have appealed to the Supreme Court to have the case dismissed.
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