The Supreme Court has temporarily postponed an appeals court order for the daughter and son-in-law of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos to report to federal authorities Tuesday to begin serving a prison sentence for contempt of court.
The couple, Irene and Gregorio Araneta, refused to testify before an Alexandria federal grand jury that was investigating alleged abuses in U.S.-financed military contracts.
In an opinion released Saturday, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger said the order by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond should be stayed until the Supreme Court, which is in recess, decides whether to review the lower court's finding that the Aranetas should be compelled to testify, according to an attorney for the couple, John M. Bray.
The Aranetas were given immunity and ordered to testify last May by U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton.
They appealed his ruling, arguing that the immunity they received from U.S. courts would not protect them from prosecution by the Philippine government, which is also investigating alleged financial abuses by Marcos and members of his family.
Rejecting that position, the appeals panel held that the couple should report July 22 to testify or go to prison.
The appeals court has not yet ruled in a similar appeal by Benjamin Romualdez, former Philippine ambassador to the United States and brother of former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Greenberg, who is handling the case, could not be reached for comment.