Sandiganbayan gives prosecution last chance to present ex-Czech envoy in Vitangcol graft case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2018 08:26 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 6th Division has given prosecutors one last chance to present former Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar in the graft cases against former MRT-3 General Manager Al Vitangcol.

The case where Rychtar is supposed to testify stems from Vitangcol's alleged $30-million extortion attempt on officials of Czech firm Inekon Group. 

The anti-graft court gave the prosecution the whole day of October 26, 2018 to present Rychtar, as well as Inekon Chairman of the Board Josef Husek, after the initial presentation of the two witnesses via video conferencing from Chile and Czech Republic was postponed.

The prosecution told the court that Rychtar, currently assigned in Santiago, Chile, still has “conditions” to be settled while the testimony of Husek, who is in Czech capital Prague, also involved “conditions” with “prohibitive cost.”

“The court will allow the prosecution one last opportunity sometime toward the end of October,” 6th Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez said.

The court asked the prosecution if they could bare details of the conditions set by Rychtar and the government of the Czech Republic, which have been relayed to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

But in response, Prosecutor Ryan Christopher Moreno told the court: “The DFA Czech Republic has yet to forward a written communication on the conditions.” 

The lawyers of Vitangcol and his co-accused PH Trams Incorporator Wilson De Vera argued before the court that the prosecution should instead rest their case as they have been given ample time to present Rychtar and Husek.

“The court has been lenient to the prosecution. The court has already forewarned that this will be the last time,” lawyer Jovito Salvador said.

The court also gave the prosecution until October 12 to state “conditions” the witnesses had set, to give ample time to the defense to comment before the October 26 hearing.

The prosecution had insisted that it be allowed to present the witnesses via video conferencing, saying Rychtar would testify that Vitangcol extorted from him and Husek in exchange for the MRT-3 maintenance contract.