Crime & Justice

Philippine court acquits ex-senator, Duterte critic of drug trafficking charge

Manila, May 10 (EFE).- A Manila court on Friday acquitted former Philippine senator Leila de Lima, one of the most critical voices against former President Rodrigo Duterte and in preventive detention since 2017, of one of three drug trafficking charges she faces.

De Lima, 63, who was already acquitted of another accusation related to drug trafficking in 2021, is facing a final trial for drug trafficking, for which she must remain in prison until she is tried for this case.

“I had no doubt from the very beginning that I will be acquitted in all the cases the Duterte regime has fabricated against me based on the merits and strength of my innocence,” de Lima said Friday in a statement issued to the media after the verdict.

De Lima’s acquittal in this case comes after former Philippine prison chief Rafael Ragos retracted his claim that he had given drug-related money to the former senator in 2012 for campaign financing, an accusation that helped in her imputation.

Before her arrest in 2017, de Lima had spent a decade investigating “death squad” killings allegedly orchestrated by Duterte during his time as mayor of the southern city of Davao and in the early days of his presidency.

Duterte, who completed his 6-year term in mid-2022 and left office, applied a brutal anti-drug campaign at national level – which he launched decades ago in Davao – leaving more than 6,000 dead, according to the police, while NGOs raise the figure above 27,000 deaths, among complaints of summary executions.

“There are now two fewer cases, and one more to go. Of course, I am glad that with this second acquittal in the three cases open against me, my release is closer after more than six years of persecution. I am very grateful to all those who have supported me and prayed for me all these years,” de Lima added in the statement. EFE


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