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Jail beckons for Aljezur’s mayor as Constitutional Court rejects final appeal

aljezuroilIn a blow that will see anti-oil protest groups crying ‘foul,’ the ebullient mayor of Aljezur, José Amarelinho, has suffered possibly a fatal blow in his struggle to stay out of prison and hang onto his job.

The outspoken Aljezur mayor has long been a thorn in the side of the government as his spirited defence of his coastline, under threat from a still-active offshore oil drilling licence awarded to the Galp-ENI consortium, has been instrumental in the wider fight to call a halt to the government’s plans to turn parts of the country into oil and gas production zones.

Amarelinho again was returned as mayor in the October 2017 local elections and represents the Socialist Party whose national executive is pushing hard to satisfy its pro-oil and gas agenda, despite being in accord with international CO2 reduction targets and over-arching environmental protection agreements.

The removal of this mayor will be seen by government in Lisbon as a positive move, removing a locally powerful party member who has refused to toe the ‘pro-oil’ line.

In 2012, Amarelinho was fined €5,000 and sentenced to 30 months in jail by Lagos court which also said he must lose his job due to the alleged illegalities of work licensed at Vale da Telha between 1990 and 2008.

Also sentenced was Manuel Marreiros, who received a 51 month sentence, the loss of his job and a €5,000 fine in the same Vale de Telha case.

The inevitable appeals followed and the latest one, to the Constitutional Court, has been rejected.

Earlier, Amarelinho lodged a request for review at the appeal court in Évora but last summer, the three year sentence was upheld.

The two politicians appealed and the Évora court overturned the Lagos court’s judgment as the evidence was not well presented. The pair went back Lagos court and lost, then went to appeal in Évora, and lost, then went to the Constitutional Court, and lost, which concluded that their appeal was inadmissible and had nothing to do with ‘constitutionality.’

In comments today to local news service, Sul Informacão, Amarelinho said he has got his lawyer back on the case, claims the legal door is still open for further action and that, until the sentence is final, he has legal rights and intends fully to use them.