MANILA A Philippine court found former first lady Imelda Marcos guilty of graft and ordered her arrest Friday in a rare conviction among many corruption cases that she plans to appeal to avoid jail and losing her seat in Congress.
Ferdinand Marcos, who along with his cronies was accused of pilfering $10 billion from the Philippines, fled with his family to the United States after a people's uprising ended his 20-year rule in 1986.
Imelda returned to the Philippines in 1992 and campaigned for the presidency, but lost it. She used banks in Switzerland to transfer the money. She was acquitted on a further three counts of graft.
In this October 16, 2018, file photo, former Philippines first lady and widow of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Congresswoman Imelda Marcos arrives at the Commission on Elections.
"We hope our courts will see this through... and give no special treatment to Mrs. Marcos", he added. Imelda and her children have always denied any wrongdoing.
The court said Imelda had "financial interest" in the seven Swiss foundations they created pegged to amount to 200 million dollars. She was sentenced 6 to 11 years in prison for each count and perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
If we fight dictators, we might win.
Deputy Speaker and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro said that despite her conviction, Marcos will remain a member of the House of Representatives. She should be arrested and photos of her being brought to justice made public.
She is now a member of the House of Representatives for Ilocos Norte.
Lawyer Ruben Carranza, meanwhile, was more guarded.
President Rodrigo Duterte enjoys good ties with the Marcos family and has often praised the late strongman.
But Carranza, who now works for the International Centre for Transitional Justice in NY, said that "even under authoritarian rulers - a Marcos, Duterte, (Donald) Trump or (Jair) Bolsonaro - there can be independent, self-respecting judges".
Imee is running for the Philippine Senate in 2019.
Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines for two decades, placing the country under martial law in 1972, during which time thousands of opponents were jailed, killed or disappeared.
He died in self-imposed exile in Hawaii in 1989.