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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Estrada in court on perjury charge
Former Philippines President Joseph Estrada
Estrada is said to have held hidden bank accounts
Former Philippines President Joseph Estrada has appeared in court accused of failing to declare all his assets while in office.

Mr Estrada is alleged to have had hidden bank accounts and to have made false declarations about his wealth shortly after becoming president.

I am willing to sacrifice to face the charges against me

Joseph Estrada
He also faces accusations of corruption and a more serious charge of economic plunder, for which he could face the death penalty.

Speaking to reporters after the pre-trial hearing in Sandiganbayan on Thursday, Mr Estrada denied any wrongdoing.

"I have the opportunity now to answer all these charges against me. I am willing to sacrifice to face the charges against me."

Personal fortune

The hearing was an opportunity for the prosecution and defence lawyers to agree on evidence which will be presented to the court at the full trial.

Anti-Estrada protest
Estrada is charged with capital plunder
The prosecution alleges Mr Estrada was dishonest when he declared net assets of 35.8m pesos ($700,000) in 1999, a charge defined in the Philippines as perjury.

It is claimed Mr Estrada had more than 74.5m pesos in several bank accounts and shares in 50 companies.

The prosecution also alleges Mr Estrada amassed a personal fortune of about 4bn pesos from illegal gambling rackets and payoffs during his time in office.

Life imprisonment

Mr Estrada, who was accompanied by his wife and two sons, did not address the court.

Unlike his previous appearances, there were no protesters outside the court, which was only half full.

Mr Estrada, a former actor, was ousted in a military-backed popular revolt in January and was arrested on 25 April.

Current Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has said she will commute any death sentence on Mr Estrada to one of life imprisonment.

Mr Estrada was ordered back in court again in October, when he will take the witness stand for the first time.

See also:

27 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo's husband under investigation
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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