The Sandiganbayan Third Division has allowed former Czech ambassador to the Philippines and current ambassador to Chile Josef Rychtar and Inekon board chairperson Josef Husek to testify against former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 general manager Al Vitangcol III.
In a six-page resolution promulgated on Jan. 10, the anti-graft court said the testimonies of Rychtar and Husek would not violate Vitangcol’s rights as the latter’s defense counsel could question them.
“Further, to allow the prosecution to present both witnesses would not violate the accused's substantive and constitutional rights. They will be given the opportunity to object to the questions propounded on them during direct-examination of the said witnesses, confront and conduct a cross-examination of the said witnesses,” the resolution read.
The Ombudsman accused Vitangcol of using his authority “to dictate the proponents invited for the preliminary negotiations” of the maintenance services and deliberately not disclosing his relationship with his uncle-in-law Arturo Soriano of PH Trams.
Vitangcol is facing graft charges over his alleged attempt to extort $30 million from representatives of Inekon.
But as far as Vitangcol is concerned, the testimonies of Rychtar and Husek would be irrelevant and hearsay. He added that the Czech national was not listed as a witness in the pre-trial order.
But the Sandiganbayan believed otherwise. The anti-graft court added a PTO is only “primarily intended to make certain that all issues necessary to the disposition of the case are properly raised.”
“The accused cannot successfully claim that their presentation as prosecution witnesses will cause surprise or violate their rights to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against them,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“In fact, the accused failed to point to any stipulated fact/s or document/s in the pre-trial order which will prejudice them should Rychtar and Husek be allowed to testify,” it added.