Philippine court studies Estrada house arrest plea


MANILA, Reuters

The Philippine anti-graft court on Monday said it needed time to study detained former president Joseph Estrada’s application to be put under house arrest.

“We have to study this very, very carefully. This is an emotional, highly contentious issue and whichever way the court rules, it will be criticized,” Associate Justice Anacleto Badoy of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan told reporters.

Badoy heads the three-justice division of the Sandiganbayan which will try Estrada and son, Jinggoy, who are in custody on remand charged with economic plunder, punishable by death.

Estrada’s lawyers have asked the court to transfer him from his cell at a police training camp 50 km (30 miles) south of Manila to his residence in a Manila suburb.

The court has given prosecutors, Estrada’s lawyers, and the Philippine National Police until Tuesday to submit their pleadings, after which it will decide.

Estrada was photographed and fingerprinted before being temporarily detained in a small cell at police headquarters in Manila.

Following his arrest, tens of thousands of his supporters, mostly the urban poor, gathered at a religious shrine demanding his release and stormed the presidential palace on May Day.