Philippine court clears Arroyo of plunder, orders her freed

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine Supreme Court has dismissed a plunder charge against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, ordering her immediate release after nearly five years of hospital detention.

Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said Tuesday that the 15 justices voted 11-4 to grant Arroyo’s petition seeking the dismissal of the plunder case before an anti-graft court because of a lack of evidence. The case involved the alleged misuse of 366 million pesos ($7.8 million) of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office fund.

The 69-year-old Arroyo, who is suffering from a neck ailment, finished her tumultuous nine-year term in 2010, but was arrested the following year on an election fraud charge, for which she was allowed to post bail. She was later charged with plunder.

Despite her detention, she was re-elected to Congress in May.