30 Philippine Officers Face Trial in Coup Plot

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Thirty Philippine officers suspected in an alleged February coup plot to topple the president will face a court-martial, the military chief said Monday.

Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said he accepted the recommendation of military prosecutors that there was probable cause for the army and marine officers to stand trial on charges of trying to create a mutiny, violating military discipline and other related offenses.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has accused military "adventurists," communist rebels and their civilian financial backers of plotting to oust her in February, when she declared a weeklong state of emergency.

Arroyo has survived at least three coup plots and two impeachment bids since she came to power in 2001, and her administration has vowed to prosecute plotters to ensure political and economic stability.

Esperson told reporters he dropped charges against eight officers for lack of evidence.

The plot came amid Arroyo's worst political crisis spurned by allegations of vote-rigging in the 2004 election. She has denied any wrongdoing.

The officers and several civilians also are facing a separate criminal trial on charges of rebellion.

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