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Estrada Returns to Philippines Anti-Graft Court on His 69th Birthday

Deposed Philippine president Joseph Estrada has returned to the witness stand at his corruption trial after celebrating his 69th birthday at a Manila church.

Estrada was briefly released from house arrest Wednesday to attend a birthday Mass with hundreds of well-wishers in the capital. He was then escorted to court to resume testimony.

Estrada is charged with pocketing nearly $80 million in bribes, tax kickbacks and other illegal payments during his presidency. His testimony, which is expected to last for weeks, has included a denial that he accepted any payoffs from illegal gambling operations.

A swirl of corruption allegations and a popular revolt forced the former actor out of office in 2001, when Gloria Arroyo took over as president.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.