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Ex-Portuguese PM asks to be freed in corruption probe

Published on 19/12/2014

Ex-Portuguese prime minister Jose Socrates, who is being held on corruption allegations, asked a court Friday to free him immediately from "illegal" detention.

Socrates’ lawyer Joao Araujo filed the plea with the investigating magistrates and said his client had “excellent legal grounds” to be released “as soon as the injustice and illegality” of his detention was recognised.

Portugal’s top court on December 3 refused to release Socrates saying his request was “without legal foundation” and was justified to prevent the 57-year-old fleeing or interfering with the investigation.

Socrates has been held in detention since he was arrested at Lisbon airport on November 21 on suspicion of tax evasion, corruption and money laundering in a case that has sent shockwaves through the country.

The emblematic former Socialist leader, who was premier from 2005 to 2011, has dismissed the accusations against him as “absurd” and called his detention “a gratuitous humiliation”.

He is the first such high level official to be arrested in Portugal since the end of military dictatorship in 1974.

Investigators have been looking into his expensive lifestyle and transfers involving Socrates’ bank account compared with earnings he has reported to tax authorities.

Particular attention is said to have been given to an apartment in Paris estimated at nearly three million euros ($3.7 million).