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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Marcos jewels could be sold after court rules 'ill-gotten'

Posted: 13 Jan 2014 08:36 PM PST

MANILA, Jan 14, 2014 (AFP) - A jewellery collection owned by former first lady Imelda Marcos was "ill-gotten", a Philippine court has ruled, potentially paving the way for an auction of millions of dollars worth of seized treasures.

The anti-graft Sandiganbayan court decided on Monday that the Malacanang Collection, the smallest of three confiscated from the Marcos estate and worth some $150,000, was rightfully owned by the government.

"Partial judgement is hereby rendered declaring the pieces of jewellery, known as the Malacanang Collection, as ill-gotten, and are hereby forfeited in favour of petitioner Republic of the Philippines," read the 33-page ruling released Tuesday.

It is one of three collections seized from the Marcos estate, including a 60-piece set featuring a 150-carat Burmese ruby.

The other two collections are already in government hands, but the ruling is significant because previous attempts to auction off the entire haul have been derailed by legal issues relating to the Malacanang pieces.

Officials said the court ruling on its forfeiture meant that an auction could now proceed.

An assessment made by Christie's in 1991 put the value of three collections at up to $8.5 million dollars, though more than two decades on it is likely to be substantially higher.

The pieces in the smallest collection were seized from the Malacanang presidential palace after the 1986 "people power" revolution ended the two-decade regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

He died in exile after fleeing to Hawaii with his family.

Imelda was known for her extravagant lifestyle and love of jewels, art and shoes, and the Marcos family still stand accused of stealing billions from state coffers.

The Philippine government has said it has so far recovered about $4 billion of an estimated stolen wealth of $10 billion, but no one from the Marcos family has been convicted.

The government has long said it wanted to put the jewellery on public display or auction it off to raise funds for its poverty alleviation programmes.

But the Marcos family has tried to block the government from claiming the treasures, and had fought the seizure in court.

Monday's judgement could still be appealed. However, the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency tasked by the government to go after the fabled Marcos wealth, welcomed the decision.

"PCGG is of course pleased," commission chairman Andres Bautista told AFP. "This is another victory for the Filipino people."

He said he would confer with President Benigno Aquino to make a final decision on what to do with the jewels, which are currently locked in a vault at Manila's central bank.

Indonesia jails militant over Myanmar embassy plot

Posted: 14 Jan 2014 05:55 AM PST

JAKARTA (AFP) - An Indonesian court has sentenced an Islamic extremist to six years in jail for conspiring to attack the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta to avenge the killing of Rohingya Muslims. 

The South Jakarta district court on Monday found Rokhadi, alias Shiro, guilty of "evil conspiracy" for plotting the bombing as well as owning explosives to be used to blow up the front of the embassy, Okto Rikardo, a prosecutor who attended the trial, told AFP on Tuesday. 

The court added that Rokhadi kept pipe bombs in his house for three days before he passed them to another member of the group, Achmad Taufiq, who was sentenced to seven-and-a-half-years jail last week.

Rokhadi is one of several men who have gone on trial over the May bomb plot, which came amid anger in Muslim-majority Indonesia at persecution of the stateless Rohingya in mainly Buddhist Myanmar.

Police foiled the plan the night before it was due to take place. 

Rokhadi had also attended a bomb-assembling class with other members of group, the court added.

His deeds, the judges said, had tainted Indonesia's reputation as a safe country and disrupted its efforts in combating terrorism. 

Rokhadi's sentence is lighter than the prosecutors' recommendation of eight years. He said he would not appeal. 

There have been a string of attacks on minority Muslims in Myanmar since 2012, mostly in the Rohingya's western home state of Rakhine. Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands made homeless. 

Indonesia has been waging a campaign against Islamic extremists over the past decade since a string of attacks on Western targets, and has succeeded in dismantling the most dangerous networks. 

Sigit Indrajid, 23, confessed during his trial last month that he was the mastermind of the plot. He is due to be sentenced later this month.

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