Manila, Philippines – A Filipino court found former gentry First Lady Imelda Marcos guilty of grafting on Friday in a rare conviction of many corruption cases that she would likely appeal to avoid jail and lose her seat in Congress.
The special anti-graft court in Sandiganbayan sentenced 89-year-old Marcos to six to eleven years' imprisonment for each of the seven anti-corruption law violations when she unlawfully paid $ 200 million in the 1970s as Governor of Metropolitan Manila Swiss foundations submitted.
Neither Marcos – famous for his large collection of shoes, jewelery and artwork – nor anyone else representing them, was in court on Friday. No one responded on their behalf, even though their lawyers demanded an appeal against the verdict, which anti-Marcos activists and human rights victims long ago overdue.
The court has excluded Marcos from exercising public office, but she can remain a member of the powerful House of Representatives while challenging the decision. Her congressional term ends next year, but she has signed up to replace her daughter as governor of the northern province of Ilocos Norte.
"I jumped in disbelief for joy," said former Human Rights Commissioner Loretta Ann Rosales, one of the many activists who declared martial law in 1972 in the Philippines after Imelda's husband, former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Rosales said the decision was a major setback for the Marcos family's efforts to revise history by denying many of the atrocities of the dictatorship, and called on the Filipinos to fight all threats against democracy and civil liberties.
Imelda Marcos' husband was disbanded in 1986 by an army-backed "People's Power". He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989, but his widow and children returned to the Philippines. Most were elected into public office in an impressive political comeback.
Prosecutor Ryan Quilala told reporters that Marcos and her husband had opened and administered Swiss foundations in violation of the Philippine constitution, hiding stolen funds using aliases. The Marcosen were accused of crushing the government's coffers in the midst of poverty. They have denied any wrongdoing and successfully fought many other corruption cases.
Imelda Marcos was acquitted on Friday in three other lawsuits filed in 1991, which have been used by several judges and prosecutors for almost three decades. She was sentenced in 1993 for a graft case, but later released from the Supreme Court for any wrongdoing.
President Rodrigo Duterte, an ally of Marcoses, said that last year the Marcos family expressed a willingness to return an unspecified sum of money and "a few gold bars" to reduce budget deficits. He points out that the family still denied that the assets had been stolen as allegedly by political opponents.
Duterte has admitted that Imee Marcos, the couple's daughter and provincial governor, has supported his presidential candidacy. The Reuters news agency notes that it frequently accompanies him to official events.
Reuters reports Dutertes spokesman Salvador Panelo said the verdict against Imelda Marcos is proof that Duerte "does not interfere or interfere" with the courts, and he respects the decision.
Duterte allowed Ferdinand Marcos & # 39; s corpse to be moved to a special hero cemetery in 2016, Reuters adds.
Ferdinand Marcos had placed the Philippines under wartime rule one year before his term expired. He closed Congress, ordered the arrest of political rivals and left-wing activists, and decreed. It is said that his family accumulated an estimated $ 5-10 billion when he was in power.
A court in Hawaii ruled Marcos liable for human rights violations and granted $ 2 billion from his estate to compensate more than 9,000 Filipinos who had filed lawsuits against torture, detention, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
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