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Ruling May Allow New Freeze of Disputed Assets in Marcos Case

November 18, 1987|United Press International

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court agreed Tuesday to consider slapping a freeze again on more than $1.5 billion in assets the Philippine government alleges former ruler Ferdinand Marcos looted from the country.

A majority of 26 voting judges on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a June 4 ruling by a three-judge panel that had restored the fortune to Marcos on the basis that a dictator could do "whatever he can get away with."

The appeals court issued a one-page order announcing a full 11-judge panel will rehear the case but gave no explanation. A date was not set for the hearing.

The fight is over about $1.5 billion in Swiss bank accounts, $7 million in property and currency seized by U.S. Customs in Honolulu, an $800,000 Los Angeles bank account and a $4-million mansion in Beverly Hills.

Treasury Funds

A civil suit by the Philippine government of Corazon Aquino contends that Marcos, in his 20-year rule as a dictator, siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars from the treasury out of the country before he was ousted and fled to Hawaii.

U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer in Los Angeles imposed a freeze on the assets in 1986. But a 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 9th Circuit overturned the preliminary injunction issued against Marcos, his wife, Imelda, and several associates.

"Offensive as such absolute government may be to our sense of justice, no legal restraints can prevail against dictatorial power," Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in the majority opinion. A U.S. court "simply cannot second-guess how that power is exercised."

The panel concluded: "A dictator can do whatever he can get away with."

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