Bail for Imelda Marcos must be set quickly to ensure that she and her husband do not try to flee the country, a federal prosecutor says.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles LaBella argued Thursday that the wife of the former Philippines president, Ferdinand Marcos, be brought to New York for arraignment on racketeering charges.LaBella made his pitch when U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan agreed to delay her husband's arraignment after defense lawyers presented letters from three doctors saying Marcos was too ill to travel the 5,000 miles from the couple's Hawaii home.
In a related development, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday that federal agents have obtained an arrest warrant for Saudi Arabian financier Adnan Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, who was indicted last week on racketeering charges along with the Marcoses, is accused of acting as a front for
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Marcos to help divert assets and hide Marcos' ownership of real estate and valuable art.
The Times, citing unidentified sources, said officials believe Khashoggi won't surrender to face the charges. It said the warrant was issued in an effort to find Khashoggi before he relocates to a country without formal extradition agreements with the United States.
In New York, Keenan agreed with prosecutors that the physicians' letters left out important details but said he would delay Marcos' arraignment until a government physician could examine him or review his medical records.
But the judge refused to delay the arraignment of Mrs. Marcos, who was indicted with her husband and eight others for an alleged scheme that looted the Philippines of more than $100 million.
Mrs. Marcos was ordered to appear Monday before Keenan, who said he would allow her to return to Hawaii after setting bail.
Despite pleas from Marcos' attorney, Richard A. Hibey, about the expected "circus atmosphere" outside Manhattan's federal courthouse and the lengthy flight to New York from Honolulu, Keenan said: "If the defendant was in New Jersey, the defendant comes to New York to be arraigned. Hawaii is an American state. I don't see any reason why she can't be arraigned in New York."
Mrs. Marcos will leave Honolulu on Saturday night for New York aboard a private luxury jet loaned by tobacco heiress Doris Duke, 74.
The jet will stop in San Francisco to pick up the couple's daughter, Irene Araneta, and Marcos attorney John Bartko, Marcos aide Arturo Aruiza said.