Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said Saturday he welcomed the federal indictment against him as a chance to disprove allegations that he stole his wealth from the treasury of his homeland.
It was the first statement by Marcos, 71, since he, his wife, Imelda, 59, and five associates, including Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi, were charged in New York Friday with racketeering. Three other people were indicted in the case on federal obstruction of justice and mail fraud charges."Paradoxical as it may seem, Imelda and I welcome the opportunity to finally show the whole world that these allegations of dishonesty and criminal activity cannot be proven by our accusers," Marcos said in a brief statement released from his Honolulu home in exile. "We are confident that we will be vindicated."
The 79-page indictment says that between 1972 and the present, the Marcoses and their co-defendants "did embezzle, steal, purloin and divert to their personal use and the use of others certain Philippine government funds."
The defendants are accused of transferring $103 million in illegally obtained funds into the United States to purchase four buildings in New York and "defrauding U.S. financial institutions of $165 million" in buying the prime properties.
The buildings - Fifth Avenue's prestigious Crown Building, the Herald Center shopping arcade, 40 Wall St. and 200 Madison Ave. - are valued at $250 million or more, U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani said.
The defendants were ordered to appear Oct. 31 before U.S. District Judge John Keenan in Manhattan.
Marcos' attorney Richard Hibey said Friday in Honolulu the Marcoses would turn themselves in by the deadline, but the time and place still have to be decided. He indicated the former leader would try to have the arraignment moved to Honolulu for health reasons.
There was no word Saturday of any change in venue.
Hibey raised doubts about Marcos' health, saying the deposed president "may not be physically able to withstand the rigors of a criminal trial of this scope and magnitude."
The attorney confirmed that Marcos had also been subpoenaed to appear before the House subcommittee on Asian affairs Friday.
"We have been served with a subpoena, I understand it is for today (Friday). That is not going to happen," Hibey said. "We will be discussing the matter with the committee."
Hibey did not further disclose the contents of the subpoena, and a Marcos' spokesman refused to comment on it Saturday. But an unconfirmed television report in Honolulu said the subpoena wanted Marcos to answer questions about whether he had made any contributions to "any political party or candidate or to any employee or official of the U.S. government."