Sandiganbayan clears remaining accused in state lottery plunder case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) — The Sandiganbayan has acquitted all accused in a multimillion-peso plunder case involving state lottery funds under the watch of former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The first division of the anti-graft court junked plunder charges against former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)general manager Rosario Uriarte, the last person accused in the plunder case that had Arroyo detained over a questioned fund disbursement worth P366-million. The decision was issued May 11, a copy of which was obtained by CNN Philippines Thursday.

Uriarte, Arroyo and 12 others were accused of illegally using the funds from 2008 to 2010.

The Supreme Court junked the case against Arroyo in 2016 in line with her demurrer to evidence, a motion that sought to dismiss charges for lack of evidence. This allowed her release after four years in hospital detention. Also cleared was former PCSO assistant general manager Benigno Aguas.

The Sandiganbayan ruled in the Uriarte case that the prosecution failed to present "any new or compelling evidence to warrant a finding different from what has already been rendered by the Supreme Court."

Uriarte reportedly left the country before the Ombudsman could file the charges, but she surfaced in November 2016 to plead "not guilty" to her plunder case.

She maintained her innocence and said the high court's dismissal of Arroyo's plunder charges should also warrant her acquittal.