The 17-year trial of Imelda Marcos, widow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has ended with her acquittal on 32 charges of illegally transferring wealth out of the Philippines.


An emotional Imelda Marcos answers questions from reporters during a news conference following her acquittal on Monday in Manila. ((Bullit Marquez/Associated Press))

Marcos and two accomplices had been charged with stashing away $863 million US in Swiss bank accounts.

But Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of the Manila regional trial court said the prosecution presented witnesses who were not directly relevant to the accounts, and failed to prove wrongdoing by Marcos beyond a reasonable doubt.

Marcos blamed former Philippines president Corey Aquino for her problems.

"I thank the Lord to relieve me again of 32 cases that will subtract from the 901 that were filed by Corazon Aquino against the Marcoses," she told reporters.

The case, filed in 1991, has taken years to make its way through the legal system. The money has been frozen by the government and is being held in escrow at the Philippine National Bank.

Of the 901 cases filed against her in the early 1990s, just 10 remain, Marcos's lawyers told AFP.

The wealthy socialite, now aged 79, gained fame for the extensive shoe collection and diamond-encrusted tiaras she left behind when she and her husband fled the country after his 1986 fall from power.

Marcos, who later returned and was an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1998, faces a string of criminal and civil cases related to billions of dollars allegedly amassed by her family during her husband's two decades in office.

The couple had denied any wrongdoing.

With files from the Associated Press