A federal judge today delayed indefinitely the arraignment of Ferdinand E. Marcos on racketeering charges, but ordered the wife of the deposed Philippine president to appear in New York on Monday.
“I am adjourning sine die (without date) the arraignment of President Marcos,” said U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan after defense lawyers presented him with doctors’ letters saying Marcos was too ill to travel the 5,000 miles from Hawaii.
But Keenan refused to delay the arraignment of Imelda Marcos, who, like her 71-year-old husband, was indicted last week for an alleged scheme that looted their homeland’s treasury of more than $100 million.
“I see no reason at all to delay her arraignment,” said Keenan, despite pleas from Marcos attorney Richard A. Hibey about the lengthy flight to New York from Honolulu, where the Marcoses have lived since fleeing the Philippines in February, 1986.
The Marcoses were indicted Friday in U.S. District Court in New York.
In Honolulu, lawyers said earlier that a private jet owned by tobacco heiress Doris Duke was at the ready to fly Marcos and his wife to New York if the arraignment was to be held there.
Duke, 74, who owns a mansion in the exclusive Honolulu ocean-front neighborhood of Black Point, had agreed to lend Marcos her specially equipped Boeing 737-300 if federal officials rejected his lawyers’ request to move Monday’s arraignment from New York.
“We have asked Mrs. Duke for the use of her plane and she graciously agreed,” said Marcos attorney John Bartko. “The government knows that; we had to tell them what arrangements were being made.”
Marcos is prohibited by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from leaving the island of Oahu without filing a written application.