- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2001

MANILA Former first lady Imelda Marcos surrendered to a Philippine court on corruption charges involving $352 million yesterday, arriving in a Mercedes limousine after a judge issued a warrant for her arrest.

The flamboyant 72-year-old widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos stood before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court for about an hour to be fingerprinted and to submit her own color mugshots. She was released on $2,400 bail.

Earlier yesterday, the court issued an arrest warrant on four counts of corruption. Mrs. Marcos is accused of laundering $352 million in embezzled funds from her time as minister of human settlements during the 1970s, according to court documents.

The charges are part of a much wider case against Mrs. Marcos rooted in charges that she helped plunder the economy while her husband ran the country from 1976 to 1986.

Mrs. Marcos, who has denied all charges, rode to court in a chauffeured black limousine and fingerprinted herself, shunning court personnel as she dipped her fingers in ink and rolled them on a blotter.

"This is the ultimate harassment," Mrs. Marcos, dressed all in blue with diamond earrings, told reporters. "It is so inhuman. It's a persecution of 16 years. So relentless, so cruel."

Asked if she was concerned that she could go to jail, she replied, "I'm not afraid of jail because wherever I am, I will always be at peace with the truth.

"We did not steal," she said.

Mrs. Marcos later showed reporters her fingers, still smudged with blue ink, and said she had become accustomed to court appearances because of cases that outnumber "the days of the year." She waved and strode back into the Mercedes, which has a vanity plate bearing her initials.

Amid accusations of widespread human rights abuses and corruption, Ferdinand Marcos was toppled and driven into exile by the 1986 "people power" revolution that ended his two decades in power. Mr. Marcos' successor, Corazon Aquino, accused the former president of stealing billions of dollars and ordered many of his assets seized.

Mr. Marcos died in Hawaii in 1989 without seeing his homeland again. Mrs. Marcos returned to the Philippines in 1990 and twice ran unsuccessfully for president.

She is known worldwide for her collection of 1,200 pairs of shoes that was discovered after she and her husband fled their palace amid the revolt.

At the height of her power, Mrs. Marcos gained notoriety for shopping trips to the world's swankiest boutiques, glitzy parties and lavish beautification projects in the midst of the Philippines' extreme poverty.

More than $629 million in Marcos' Swiss bank deposits have been transferred to an escrow account in Manila pending determination of its real owners. Investigators are still working to track down suspected other accounts.

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