But prosecutors kept insisting that it is simply illegal to take stolen money and invest it in the United States. Regardless of the bigger questions, the Marcoses defrauded two American banks, they said, by concealing their identities as the buildings’ owners while acquiring loans.
A Surreal Trial
Issues aside, there was a surreal quality to the trial that never diminished. Daily, Mrs. Marcos sat at a table surrounded by four lawyers. Always, she wore black mourning dress. In the gallery sat her sister, a nun, and many of her supporters and opponents, who often competed for space on the courthouse steps with protest banners.
Twice, under the strain of the trial, Mrs. Marcos broke down in tears and on one occasion, she collapsed and had to be hospitalized.
At the end yesterday, as the courtroom grew hushed, the former First Lady, holding rosary beads and quivering, faced the jury forewoman, a retired office worker. After the verdict, Mr. Spence raised his hands over his head and applauded.
He had been relentless in his portrayal of Mrs. Marcos as ”a small, fragile widow,” who knew little about big-time investments, even in the face of much testimony that suggested otherwise. He was challenged by a thin line that had him defending the legacy of Mr. Marcos and at the same time, separating his wife from his deeds.
”Mrs. Marcos committed no crime except the crime of loving a man for 35 years, of raising his children, of being his First Lady, of being his ardent supporter, of taking his lavish gifts,” Mr. Spence said.
The prosecution team, led by the assistant United States attorneys Charles G. LaBella and Debra A. Livingston, stuck to a more traditional approach, placing the emphasis on flowcharts that showed the path that Marcos money took from Manila to Hong Kong, Switzerland, Italy and ultimately, New York.