Arrest warrant issued for Imelda Marcos after failing to appear in court

An arrest warrant has been filed for Imelda Marcos after the former Philippines First Lady failed to appear in court at the end of her corruption trial, according to a court official.

The 89-year-old widow of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos was not present in court Friday when it was announced that she had been found guilty of seven counts of graft.

Despite her absence, Marcos was sentenced to a minimum of up to 11 years for each count, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines. She was acquitted on a further three counts of graft.

Marcos, a member of the Philippines House of Representatives, will be given 30 days to explain her absence, according to Lenina Alisuag, from office of the clerk of courts of the Sandiganbayan Court Fifth Division, which has jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices.

The charges, filed in the 1990s, stem from companies set up by the family in Switzerland prior to her husband’s ouster in 1986, CNN Philippines says. The former first lady held various positions in her husband’s government during his 21-year regime.

Alisuag told CNN that the court had ordered the arrest warrant but it had not been yet issued.

Marcos can apply for bail while appealing the decision, CNN Philippines reports.

Long-serving politician

Marco is currently running for the governorship of Ilocos Norte, the family’s traditional stronghold in the northeast of the country.

She has been elected four times to the House of Representatives, despite ongoing controversies over the huge sums of money she and her husband plundered from the country.

Her son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. narrowly lost the election for Vice President of the Philippines in 2016.

While Imelda Marcos, a current Representative for the region, would be disqualified from holding public office if the conviction isn’t overturned, she can continue to run in next year’s gubernatorial race until the anti-graft court’s decision is finalized.

The Marcos family were accused of stealing billions of dollars from the Philippine people during her husband’s presidency.

Nicknamed the “Iron Butterfly,” Marcos was famous for her lavish spending while first lady. At the time of husband’s ouster from office in 1986, she left over 1,000 pairs of shoes and more than 800 purses behind when fleeing to Hawaii.

In 2016, the Philippine government approved the auction of former first lady’s jewelry collection — worth approximately $21 million in total.