Edition 1446
21 October 2017
Edition: 1446

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Trial of the century

by Brendan de Beer, in News · 12-10-2017 14:29:00 · 2 Comments

Former Socialist Prime Minister José Sócrates has been charged with a total of 31 crimes. Among them he has been accused of receiving bribes totalling 34 million euros. According to the charges made public on Wednesday evening, José Sócrates faces allegations of corruption, forgery, tax evasion and money laundering.

Trial of the century

The former Prime Minister learned this week that the prosecution had found cause to take him to trial after looking into his activities starting back in 2005 when he was first elected as the country’s leader.
News of the charges comes almost three years after José Sócrates was first detained. After spending time behind bars at an Évora prison facility, he was later placed under house arrest before being released pending further inquiries.
With a trial likely only to begin late in 2018, or even as late as 2019, it is already being termed the biggest judicial case in the history of the Portuguese democracy.
The charges mostly centre around Sócrates abusing his power to gain financial advantages for himself and others.
The ‘Marquês Operation’, as the investigation into Sócrates has become known, has seen him charged with three crimes of taking bribes as a politician, 16 of money laundering, nine of forging documents and three counts of tax fraud.
The case involves, 28 defendants, 19 individuals and nine companies, and a total of 188 crimes.
The prosecution has meanwhile also called for the defendants to pay damages to the state amounting to 58 million euros. Along with José Sócrates, other defendants include former BES chairman Ricardo Salgado, former cabinet minister Armando Vara and PT Director Zeinal Bava.
The former prime minister and his friend and businessman Carlos Santos Silva may be sentenced to jointly pay 19.5 million euros plus interest.
The allegations against José Sócrates are mainly linked to the events leading to the collapse of Portugal Telecom and BES bank, while he is also accused of receiving bribes from the construction company LENA.
Earlier his year, José Sócrates told The Portugal News at his Lisbon home that he was a victim of a political witch hunt and that his constitutional rights had repeatedly been violated during the investigation, which lacked in scruples.
Addressing reporters on Wednesday evening, defence lawyer João Araújo said that the 4,000-page charge sheet was merely an illusion and that by the time his team had finished sifting through the alleged evidence of wrong-doing there would be nothing left.
“They were not trying to get to the truth, they were trying to incriminate our client when they exposed him to a media trial, a violent defamation campaign and a one-sided public condemnation”, the lawyers said.
“The 4,000 pages are part of the spectacle, they only serve to make believe that there is something awry, when there is in fact nothing,” Araujo added.
Sócrates quit as prime minister midway during his second term in office back in 2011, following a series of protests against the country’s financial woes. This was coupled with his cabinet’s inability to avert the debt-crisis that led to the subsequent centre-right coalition government being forced to seek an international bailout.

Comments

Are you sure this guy isn't from New York? Wow! I wish we could catch Trump this easily.
by Francisco from USA on 15-10-2017 09:09:00
Change the system in order try him earlier! Why is it that the right to a fair trial is acceped as an excuse to avoid justice?
by Robert from Lisbon on 13-10-2017 11:19:00

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Edition 1446
21 October 2017
Edition: 1446

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

Twitter