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Defense Wants Marcos Out of Racketeering Case

February 11, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Lawyers for Ferdinand Marcos asked a federal judge Friday to remove the deposed Philippines president from a racketeering case because of his health problems.

U.S. prosecutors opposed the move, saying it was too soon to make a final prognosis of the 71-year-old Marcos’ chances for recovery from pneumonia and other respiratory ailments.

U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan reserved decision.

Marcos has been hospitalized for nearly a month at St. Francis Medical Center in Honolulu for pneumonia and bronchial asthma. He suffered a collapsed lung Jan. 19 while at the hospital, but it was reinflated. A spokesman listed him as in guarded condition Friday.

In another development, a senior adviser to Philippines President Corazon Aquino confirmed that he met in San Francisco with ″some supposed representatives of Marcos″ earlier this week, but said he ended the talk after learning they were not authorized to speak for the Marcos family.

″I am not in the habit of talking uselessly about these things,″ the official, Mateo Caparas, told reporters outside Keenan’s courtroom.

Caparas, head of the Philippines’ Presidential Commission on Good Government, said he was asked to the meeting by Marcos’ lawyers. He said he had no authorization from Mrs. Aquino to talk with Marcos.

Earlier, before Keenan, Marcos attorney Richard A. Hibey asked the judge to sever Marcos from the case with a review of his health status at a later date.

The request, if granted, would not dismiss the charges against the ailing former president but only separate his case from the other defendants, including his wife, Imelda, 59, and Saudi Arabian financier Adnan Khashoggi.

The Marcoses and others are charged with a racketeering scheme that allegedly looted $103 million from the Philippines and funneled it through foreign bank accounts to buy New York real estate and artworks.

The Marcoses have lived in exile in Hawaii since fleeing Manila in February 1986.

A Feb. 4 report by Marcos’s physician Dr. Claver P. Ramos, submitted to the court by Hibey, said the former president was in critical condition at St. Francis and required a respirator.

″I don’t see that the U.S. courts are about the business of visiting their jurisdiction on someone who is in this condition,″ Hibey told Keenan.

When Keenan asked Hibey about news reports that Marcos was trying to negotiate a settlement with the Philippines government, the lawyer said: ″There have been conversations. There have not been negotiations.″

Hibey added: ″It is clear we have communicated to the Philippine government the desire of the Marcos family that Mr. Marcos be allowed to return to the Philippines to die. His condition is in extremis.″

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles LaBella insisted that it was too soon to make final determination of whether Marcos’s health problems precluded him from standing trial.

″I think it’s much more prudent to wait three months to assess Mr. Marcos’s condition,″ said the prosecutor, adding, ″either he’s going to recover or he’s not.″

A continuation of a hearing by Keenan to determine if Marcos is well enough to be arraigned in Honolulu is scheduled for March 6.

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