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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 14:07 GMT
Imelda Marcos free to travel abroad
Imelda Marcos pictured in October 2001
Imelda Marcos had surgery in Manila last December
Former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos, who is facing corruption charges, has been given permission for a month-long trip to China for medical treatment.

The Sandiganbayan anti-corruption court in Manila ruled the 72-year-old could leave the country on 8 December for treatment in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.

Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown in 1986
Mrs Marcos, widow of the country's late president Ferdinand Marcos had filed an "urgent motion" saying she needed "alternative oriental medicine" to treat an unspecified ailment.

In October, Mrs Marcos was granted bail of $2,500 on charges of setting up Swiss bank accounts containing millions of dollars, acquired illegally under the names of several foundations.

She was also charged with violating the constitution while she was cabinet minister and head of a foundation in the 1980s.

Charges denied

The charges are part of a wider case alleging the Marcos family plundered the nation's economy between 1968 and 1986, when Mr Marcos was in power. The government estimates they took up to $10bn.

The Marcos family is also under investigation for human rights abuses.

Mrs Marcos has pleased not guilty to all the charges, which she describes as government harassment.

The former first lady was found guilty on corruption charges in the mid-1990s and sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison, but the conviction was overturned on appeal.

The Marcoses were overthrown in a popular revolt in 1986 and fled to Hawaii, where Ferdinand Marcos died three years later.

Mrs Marcos - well known for once owning hundreds of pairs of shoes - returned to the Philippines in 1991 when a ban against her was dropped.

Last December, the former first lady had cranial surgery in Manila to remove a blood clot from an injury she suffered in an accident at home.

The prosecution "expressed its conformity" with her new request to seek treatment abroad, the Sandiganbayan court's fifth division said on Monday.

See also:

16 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Imelda Marcos faces arrest
16 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Homage to Imelda's shoes
31 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
The day I met Imelda Marcos
08 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines cult idolises Marcos
06 Oct 98 | Asia-Pacific
Imelda Marcos acquitted
04 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
Imelda Marcos turns 70 in style
03 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: The Philippines
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