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Sandiganbayan junks graft charge vs Vitangcol

Date posted - 08/10/2019
News

Former MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol. (FILE PHOTO).

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 7) — A division of the anti-graft court has dismissed a graft case against former Metro Rail Transit General Manager Al Vitangcol and his co-accused due to lack of evidence.

The Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division said in a 25-page ruling on Monday that the prosecution failed to present evidence to prove that Vitangcol requested or received a gift, present, share, percentage or benefit for him or for any other person.

The prosecution said “at the very least” Vitangcol, in conspiracy with Wilson De Vera to request or demand from Czech company INEKON Group that they should enter and sign a joint venture agreement with a group, including De Vera, for the MRT-3 maintenance.

Vitangcol supposedly offered INEKON, in the presence of then Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar, a joint venture deal wherein the Czech company gets a 60 percent share of the deal, while the group gets 40 percent.

Vitangcol was also accused of extorting $30 million from INEKON through De Vera at Rychtar's residence. INEKON representatives refused, so De Vera allegedly reduced the demand to $2.5 million after speaking to Vitangcol on the phone.

The prosecution insisted that they presented evidence that would prove these allegations.

They presented the testimonies of three lawyers and the affidavits of Rychtar and INEKON board chair Josef Husek. The prosecution noted that it was “impossible” to summon Rychtar and Husek to appear before the court.

But the Sandiganbayan rejected Rychtar and Husek’s affidavits as hearsay, as they did not take the witness stand. Vitangcol also objected to the inclusion of the testimony of one of the three lawyers as it was “biased.”

“[These] being thus excluded, there is no evidence on record which establishes the second and third elements of the crime charged,” the court said through Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero.

The court also junked the conspiracy charges against Vitangcol and De Vera, also for lack of evidence.

Aside from acquitting them, the Sandiganbayan also lifted the hold departure orders against them.

Sandiganbayan Sixth Division chair Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl Miranda concurred with the ruling.

 

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