Former Euro MP and ‘anti-corruption firebrand’ Ana Gomes has been heard this week as an ‘arguida’ (official suspect) in a case for corruption brought out against her by former defence minister José Pedro Aguiar-Branco.
This has been a long drawn-out affair: Gomes infuriated Aguiar-Branco years ago when she suggested there may have been collusion between his lawyers’ office and the Martifer group that won the contract to take over Viana do Castelo’s formerly State-owned shipyards.
Aguiar-Branco wanted to sue her for defamation there and then, but was thwarted by the fact that she enjoyed parliamentary immunity.
Now that Gomes is no longer a Euro MP, her immunity has gone.
Aguiar-Branco – the minister who signed the Martifer deal – asked for his case against her to be ‘resurrected’ practically the day Gomes left the European Parliament, say reports.
But certainly Gomes is unruffled.
Frequently threatened with legal action over statements she has made (click here) and (click here), she told journalists that she will wait now to see what happens “calmly and very amused” – particularly as she not only stands behind every word she said back in 2013, but has added further ‘elements’ to the picture for DIAP investigators.
Coincidentally, economist João Pedro Martins caused a commotion in the press earlier this year when he too suggested there was “high corruption” in the closure of the Viana do Castelo shipyard (click here).
Public prosecutors were described as following up on his allegations about a “clear intention of mismanagement and then privatisation” on the part of the then PSD government.
In other words, Ana Gomes isn’t the only inconvenient voice on the horizon – though there is no suggestion yet that Aguiar-Branco is suing João Pedro Martins.
The closure of the shipyards was a dark day in Portuguese labour history, and one that saw the local Socialist Mayor stage his own protest in a bid to show the ‘man-in-the-street’ was not convinced that the process had been fully transparent.