DETAINED Philippine senator Leila De Lima appeared in court on Friday where she demanded the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors show their physical evidence against her, before calling the president a coward as she left the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.
De Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been detained since Feb 24, 2017 for her alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade at the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice minister in the previous administration.
The senator strongly denies the charges and maintains they are politically motivated. Amnesty International has listed her as a “Human Rights Defenders Under Threat” after, they claim, Duterte made her a “target of his divisive rhetoric.”
Sen. Leila M. de Lima greets her supporters as she arrives at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court earlier today. Her arraignment was rescheduled anew for May 18. pic.twitter.com/HJrdWK7HXa
— Leila de Lima (@SenLeiladeLima) March 16, 2018
According to Rappler, De Lima’s legal team insisted the DOJ produce their physical evidence against her and allow her lawyers to inspect it.
“They mentioned a bank account where money was deposited, where is that bank account? We want to know,” said De Lima’s lawyer Filibon Tacardon.
After it was revealed this week that drug charges were dropped against suspected drug lords Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim due to lack of evidence to bring them to trial, opposition lawmakers also called for the release of De Lima.
Their request was unsuccessful, however, after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the DOJ resolution that freed the two kingpins “will not affect” De Lima’s case as “there are other witnesses who would testify against the lady senator,” as quoted by SunStar.
In an open act of defiance as she left the court, De Lima shouted a scathing tirade against the president, calling him a coward for pulling out of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
— Xave Gregorio (@XaveGregorio) March 16, 2018
“I thought he was challenging the ICC?” she shouted as she was rushed to a waiting minibus to be taken back to jail. “#CowardDuterte,” she added.
Duterte announced Tuesday that the Southeast Asian nation will remove itself from the jurisdiction of the ICC, a month after prosecutors from the Hague-based court announced they would be launching a preliminary investigation into his controversial drug war.
De Lima’s arraignment was reset once again and is now set for May 18, meaning she will have been in custody for one year and three months without seeing trial.