Philippines frees 10 convicted in Aquino murder | world | Hindustan Times
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Philippines frees 10 convicted in Aquino murder

world Updated: Mar 04, 2009 14:57 IST
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Ten Philippine soldiers convicted in the 1983 assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr walked free on Wednesday after being pardoned by Philippine President Gloria Arroyo.

The 10 were the remaining convicts of the 16 people found guilty of Aquino's murder on the tarmac of Manila's international airport on his return from exile in the United States.

Aquino's killing sparked a popular, bloodless revolt in 1986 that ended the 20-year rule of Ferdinand Marcos and propelled his widow, Corazon Aquino, to the presidency.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez signed the release order for the 10 former soldiers on Wednesday, officials said. Arroyo pardoned them on Monday after they had been in prison for 26 years.

Granting clemency is a prerogative of the Philippine president and usually given to prisoners suffering from old age and illness or who have shown good conduct.

"We can't do anything about it because it's the absolute power of the president," said Senator Benigno Aquino III, son of the late senator, reacting to the release.

Aquino has said that political vendetta may have been behind the release of those found guilty in the murder of his father. Corazon Aquino has spoken out on several occassions against the Arroyo government.

Arroyo earlier pardoned three of the convicted soldiers, two of them only last month. The other three died in prison.