Edition 1505
15 December 2018
Edition: 1505

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“I didn’t do it”

by Brendan de Beer, in News · 27-11-2014 14:17:00 · 3 Comments

Almost a week after he was detained at Lisbon airport and whisked off to a police station for a marathon round of questioning, former Prime Minister, José Sócrates, has written a letter to the press from the confines of his prison cell in Évora to say that charges brought against him are “absurd, unjust and unfounded.”

“I didn’t do it”

The letter, which consists of eight paragraphs, appeared a day after the Attorney-General’s Office released a statement to the media disclosing the contours surrounding the investigation into José Sócrates.
“Suspicions of the crimes of tax fraud, money laundering and corruption are being investigated and as a result four arrests have been made. Among those detained are José Sócrates”, the statement explained.
During the initial investigation, four magistrates and 60 tax and customs officials and PSP police officers co-assisted the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the investigation which led to the former Prime Minister’s surprise arrest.
The Attorney-General, in more detail than is customary of cases governed by Portugal’s strict secrecy rules, said “banking operations and movements and transfers of cash without any legal justification are being investigated”.
Media reported this week that Sócrates is suspected of accumulating a fortune of around 23 million euros from pocketing bribes during his time in power.
According state television RTP, his tax declarations filed during his 24-year political career are estimated to be in the region of around 2.5 million euros.
As a result of these revelations, a separate inquiry has been lodged to ascertain which parties were responsible for the disclosure of this and other classified information which constitutes a breach of judicial secrecy.
But the first Portuguese Prime Minister in Portugal’s democratic history to be detained, came out fighting on Thursday to challenge the serious accusations levelled at him.
In the letter, Sócrates claims the investigation has “political undertones” and complains of the “cheap humiliation” of being arrested.
He further promises to rubbish “the false allegations brought against him and will hold those accountable behind these accusations.
“My arrest for questioning is an abuse and the spectacle surrounding it defamatory”, argues the former head of Government, who ruled from 2005 to 2011.
José Sócrates, 57, is said to have come to the decision of writing the letter after a period of “five days which were out of this world” and opted to take the “legitimate stance” of defending his reputation.
In the letter, he claims a “crime” has been committed against the country’s justice system and levels direct accusations at the Public Prosecutor’s Office for demanding he be remanded in custody until a decision is made as to whether he stand trial on the charges against him.
Shortly before the publication of the letter, prisoner number 44 at a prison facility with a capacity of 45, was paid a visit by Socialist Party founder Mário Soares.
Speaking after an hour-long visit to this jail, which only holds state officials and civil servants such as police officers, a former President and Prime Minister himself, Soares said he was “certain” of his friend’s innocence.
José Sócrates is reported to be the neighbour of a former police officer in the Évora prison. The GNR officer is serving a life sentence for the murder of three youths during a killing rampage in 2007.
Portugal President Cavaco Silva meanwhile said he did not believe this case would adversely affect the image of the country abroad, despite the fact that it has had international media coverage since last Friday.
“I am convinced that the of image of Portugal is not going to alter significantly, I even hope that it does not alter at all because those who look at us can see the institutions are working normally in our country, I do not believe Portugal’s image is going to be changed abroad”, he said during an official visit to Abu Dhabi.
João Araújo, who has been appointed legal counsel by Sócrates, has revealed that his client would be appealing the decision to hold him in custody while the inquiry into his client continues.
These investigations could last up to six months before formal charges are presented after which a judge will rule whether or not Sócrates should stand trial.
The crimes of which he stands accused carry a maximum jail term of 21 years.
José Sócrates quit politics in 2011 after losing a general election two months after summoning the help of the bailout Troika with the country reported to be “days away from bankruptcy.”
He has spent most of the past three years studying philosophy in Paris where his perceived lavish lifestyle has been the target of a series of reports in Portugal’s tabloid newspapers.

Comments

Re Mr. Perrott from UK comments:
Even if the Socratesgate does not give any glory to Portugal at least it proves that democracy is working in the country. Let the police and jusytice do their work- maybe they really need to keep Mr Socrates in jail (not for ever without judgement, I hope). Now I have a question, whenever there is a political/corruption scandal in the UK, US or elsewhere, I've never read that the business world gets upset!
Would the "business" prefer that free corruption goes on?
by e santos from Other on 02-12-2014 10:43:00
I read that the President Silva does not think that the
reputation of Portugal will be adversely affected by the
custodial arrest of the former Prime Minister.
I imagine that amongst the E U parliamentarians, providing for ones future is a natural pastime, as per Mr Blair and Brown of recent times.
However E U citizens of integrity may not be inclined to take the same
by T V Perrott from UK on 28-11-2014 08:10:00
Whatever one might say about the former Prime Minister and how he conducted Portugal's affairs during his time in office, it is outrageous that he is being jailed before the prosecutor makes a decision about possible prosecution. At the very least, he should be kept under house arrest while being required to wear an electronic device around his ankle. Sadly, the way this unfortunate episode is being handled is further damaging Portugal's image, at least here in the US. Portugal's actions remind one more of Pakistan than of a Western European nation where there is due process of law. I have taught in one of the main Portuguese management schools for many years, I have long understood that the Portuguese have an immature understanding of what drives investors---whether they be venture capitalists from Silicon Valley or Wall Street investors---to either invest in, or stay away from, a national market. In treating Socrates in this lamentable way, the Portuguese are only further damaging their terrible reputation among business people. It's all so unnecessary: the country has so much potential, all so poorly spoken for.
by Robert Stinerock from USA on 28-11-2014 05:35:00

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Edition 1505
15 December 2018
Edition: 1505

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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