Court clears way for Estrada's HK surgery

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 December, 2004, 12:00am

Jailed former Philippine president Joseph Estrada is expected to fly to Hong Kong for surgery soon after a court in his homeland granted him temporary bail.

A division of the anti-graft court voted 4-1 last night to approve the trip for knee replacement surgery.

Spokesman Didagen Dilangalen said Estrada would leave once new arrangements had been made with the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital and surgeon Christopher Mow.

The court had sat for a month hearing Estrada's application to travel.

Estrada was required to post bail of 1 million pesos ($139,000), leave before December 12, stay only at the hospital and return home after treatment.

A further condition was to recognise the court as the proper venue to try his ongoing embezzlement case. Surgery and hospital expenses were expected to cost Estrada between US$200,000 and US$250,000, Mr Dilangalen said.

Estrada will also foot the bill for police to accompany him to Hong Kong. The length of his stay was not known.

Estrada was removed from office in January 2001 by a military-backed popular uprising after he was impeached on charges of amassing more than 4 billion pesos during his 31-month rule by embezzling state funds and profiting from insider trading.

The case has dragged on ever since.

Commentators have said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo agreed to Estrada's departure in return for the withdrawal of support for efforts to topple her.