Philippines' Imelda seeks speedy trial, rejects deal

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MANILA, Oct 15 (Reuters) Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos has sought a speedy trial of multiple corruption cases against her, a government official said today, effectively closing the door on any out-of-court-settlement.

Last week, an agency tasked to search and recover nearly 10 billion dollars worth of assets allegedly stolen by former president Ferdinand Marcos, his family and partners during his 20-year rule, said it was open to deals to end the cases.

But Ricardo Abcede, a member of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), told reporters the organisation which has been criticised for recovering only a fraction of the alleged wealth, would now wait for next year's trial.

''She has decided to go through the regular judicial process,'' Abcede said of Imelda. ''Apparently, she's no longer interested in an out-of-court settlement.'' The anti-graft court has granted Imelda's motion to hold marathon hearings in January 2008 to conclude her remaining 11 criminal cases because they have dragged on for more than two decades.

Separately, the Marcoses and their allies are facing civil cases involving 180 billion pesos (4 billion dollars), the bulk of which relate to assets held by tobacco-to-airlines billionaire Lucio Tan and San Miguel chairman Eduardo Cojuangco.

Since 1986, when the PCGG was created, only 1.8 billion dollars has been recovered, including 8 million in various Swiss bank accounts.

The government will auction jewellery recovered from Imelda worth 3.6 million dollars next year, Abcede said.

Marcos was toppled by an army-backed popular uprising in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii three years later.

Reuters SKB GC1756

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