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Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 04:43 GMT 05:43 UK
Estrada: The charges
Former Philippines President Joseph Estrada
It is unlikely the death penalty would be used
Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada faces a string of charges ranging from perjury to economic plunder, a crime that carries the maximum penalty of death by lethal injection.

Anti-Estrada demonstrators, January 2001
Mr Estrada was ousted in amid popular protest
The plunder charge stems from allegations that Mr Estrada used his official position and influence to amass more than $80m in illegal wealth during his 31 months in office.

Mr Estrada, who was ousted in January amid mass street protests, is also charged with illegal use of an alias by taking an assumed name to hide his wealth.

And in a separate trial process, he is also accused of perjury.

The former movie star has denied all the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

Death penalty

The plunder charge, defined as large-scale corruption, is punishable by death under a tough justice law that took effect in 1994. Mr Estrada approved the execution of seven death row convicts under the code in 1999.

However, analysts say it is unlikely the death penalty would be used for Mr Estrada.

Anti-Estrada protesters
The prosecution cannot look at Estrada's bank accounts
His successor Gloria Arroyo has said she does not oppose the death penalty being law, but Justice Secretary Hernando Perez has ruled out any executions taking place while she is in power.

Mr Estrada was arraigned for perjury on 27 June, but refused to enter a plea. The court automatically entered a plea of "not guilty". He is accused of falsifying the extent of his assets in official papers.

Earlier charges against him were dropped so that prosecutors could concentrate on the plunder charge. The charges dropped include the allegations against Mr Estrada which sparked his impeachment trial - that he received bribes from illegal gambling syndicates and kept millions of pesos in excise taxes.

Set-back

However, the prosecution may be hampered by a court decision that limits investigators' access to private bank records.

In June the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutor Aniano Desierto has no authority to look into such records while investigating a graft complaint.

He can only access them once a case has been filed in a court that then provides authorisation. The ruling provided exceptions, but none appears to apply to Mr Estrada's cases.

The ruling was issued in a case unconnected to Mr Estrada's charges, but could be used by Mr Estrada's lawyers to block the opening of the former president's private bank accounts.

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See also:

27 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada refuses to plead
20 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada to stay in hospital
14 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada 'at risk in prison'
21 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo's Estrada prison 'deal' criticised
02 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines president widens crackdown
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