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Court withdraws arrest warrant vs Erap crony


MANILA, Philippines–The Sandiganbayan Special Division has withdrawn an arrest warrant issued in 2002 against businessman Jaime Dichaves for having been named co-defendant in the P4.1 billion plunder case against former President Joseph Estrada.

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court overruled the prosecution argument that Dichaves was accorded a proper preliminary investigation before he was indicted for plunder even if he had already left the country during the Estrada impeachment trial at the Senate.

Presiding Justice Francisco H. Villaruz Jr., division chairman, penned the majority resolution concurred in by Associate Justices Jose R. Hernandez, Napoleon E. Inoturan and Maria Cristina J. Cornejo.

Associate Justice Rodolfo A. Ponferrada submitted the lone dissent on the ground that Dichaves forfeited his right to a preliminary investigation after he left the country on his own accord making him a “fugitive from justice and beyond the jurisdiction of the court.”

“As earlier mentioned, Dichaves left the country at the height of the impeachment proceedings. At the time he left the country, there was no complaint against him with the Office of the Ombudsman nor was there any Information filed against him. Dichaves cannot be considered a fugitive from justice,” the court declared in the majority ruling.

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the way for the defendant’s return to the country to refute charges as defense lawyer explained that the standing arrest warrant was the only thing preventing Dichaves’ from coming back.

Dichaves was specifically accused of helping Estrada amass commission or percentage amounting to P189.7 million out of the P1.847 billion investments made by the Social Security System (P744.61 million) and the Government Service Insurance System (P1.1 billion) in Belle Corp.

Prosecutors said he delivered the commission to Estrada by depositing P189.7 million into the Jose Velarde account that was said to be maintained by Estrada with the Equitable-PCI Bank.

Estrada was convicted of plunder on September 12, 2007 but was subsequently pardoned by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the ground that he was already 70 years old at the time of sentencing.

The ousted president however maintains to this day that Dichaves was the real Jose Velarde.- Newsbreak

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