New date set towards Portugal’s “trial of the century”
A new date has been set on the bumpy road towards Portugal’s ‘trial of the century’, focusing on the alleged corruption of former prime minister José Sócrates.
Almost four years since the 60-year-old was arrested and later held in preventive custody – first in jail and then ‘under house arrest’ in Lisbon – superjudge Carlos Alexandre has finally scheduled September 3 for the so-called opening of judicial instruction, the final date by which Sócrates and the other 28 defendants can request an optional procedural phase, directed by a magistrate.
It is a moment, say reports, where the basis of the Public Ministry’s case could be given a form of ‘mini-trial’.
Hours after Lusa broke the news, SIC television was pre-releasing clips of Sócrates ‘exploding’ on camera during questioning ahead of its exposé this evening “O Confronto”.
José Sócrates has refuted all the claims against him (click here) since the very beginning, and there are many who believe Operation Marquês and all the razzmatazz and allegations that have filled newspaper columns since 2014 will amount to nothing.
Certainly the convoluted case has taken its time to get to court, and it is still not there. But at least we have a new date to work towards.
As Lusa recaps: the inquiry relates to the practice of almost 200 crimes of an economic-financial nature. Sócrates himself is accused of three crimes of passive corruption while holding political office, 16 of money-laundering, nine of falsification of documents and three of qualified fiscal fraud.
Salient points of the prosecution are that Sócrates received “around €34 million between 2006-2015 in return for favourable decisions extended to former banker Ricardo Salgado of Group Espírito Santo, Portugal Telecom, the Algarve’s Vale do Lobo resort and construction company Group Lena.
Defendants accused alongside Sócrates include Salgado, former PT directors Henrique Granadeiro and Zeinal Bava and former CGD director Armando Vara.
And the State is gunning for a total of €58 million in damages.
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