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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 14:55 GMT
Estrada judge 'dismissed'
Joseph Estrada in court in October
Mr Estrada has said he does not expect a fair trial
The judge in the trial of former Philippines President Joseph Estrada has been stripped of his duties after the defence accused him of lacking impartiality, according to Reuters news agency.

The Supreme Court said Judge Anacleto Badoy was "considered on leave until further orders from this court".

Justice Anacleto Badoy
Justice Badoy: Estrada lawyers accuse him of bias
Mr Estrada, who was ousted from power in January amid popular protests, is charged with plundering $80m in state funds during his 30 months in office.

The trial "will continue", the court said on Tuesday.

"This will not affect court proceedings," said a spokesman.

The court said it was suspending Justice Badoy indefinitely pending its ruling on a petition by Mr Estrada's lawyers asking that the judge be taken off the case for his "inability to act with the cold neutrality of an impartial judge".

Judges' feud

This is just the latest twist in a series of legal rows and delays in the trial.

Less than two weeks ago another senior judge at the Sandiganbayan anti-corruption court that is hearing the Estrada case was also relieved of his duties.

Riot police escort a van carrying Mr Estrada at the time of his arrest in April
Mr Estrada has been in custody since April
Francis Garchitorena - who was hearing separate perjury charges against Mr Estrada - was suspended after complaints that cases were proceeding too slowly.

A few weeks before that, the two judges had been involved in a public spat when Justice Badoy said Justice Garchitorena was trying to force him out.

Justice Garchitorena denied pressuring his colleague but did say there had been complaints that Justice Badoy often arrived late for hearings and had others do his paper work.

Mr Estrada and his defence team have previously made unsuccessful petitions to have Justice Badoy removed because of alleged bias.

The former movie star - detained in a military hospital - has asked to be released for 10 days over Christmas.

Government lawyers told reporters they would block the request, warning it would set a dangerous precedent.

See also:

28 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines corruption judge suspended
19 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada suffers trial setback
07 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada prosecutor accused of graft
06 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada 'needs' US knee operation
05 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Judges squabble threatens Estrada trial
29 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Court blow for Estrada prosecutors
16 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
New delay in Estrada trial
03 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada gets break from new charges
01 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada plays trial cat and mouse
10 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada: Movie hero or villain?
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