Final prosecution and defence statements have now been heard in the ongoing trial of Albuferia GNR-BT (Brigada do Trânsito Traffic Police) police officers, on alleged corruption charges. Verdicts are due to be heard on October 4 after a lengthy case that involves 35 defendants accused of various crimes – criminal association, extortion, abuse of power and active and passive corruption. Problems began when the defence insisted that evidence gathered from telephone-tapping devices, which formed the greater part of the prosecution case, should be discounted. They based this view on the fact that they were only handed over to the judge 40 days after the beginning of the investigation, when they should have been handed over immediately. With the sole exception of Sá Correia, defence lawyer for Sargent Garcia, the only defendant who has been in prison, since April 2002, the defence team is seeking the acquittal of all their clients, who include police officers and businessmen.
Sá Correia admitted that it had been proven that his client received 180 euros from four businessmen with whom he had dined on two occasions. But he considered that the evidence could only support a conviction for passive corruption, which is punishable by two years in prison. The prosecution disagrees and has requested that Garcia be found guilty of active corruption, a crime that carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. According to the prosecution, Garcia was the main ringleader of the alleged criminal network that was allegedly extorting money from heads of civil construction firms in return for turning a blind eye to fines. The gang were also threatening to make their victims’ daily business activities impossible if they failed to comply. Suspicion was first directed to police officers owing to their ostentatious lifestyles that seemed incompatible with the GNR officers’ earnings.