Ricardo Salgado when still at the helm of BES

Association calls on prosecutors to check illness claims of former BES bank boss

Frente Cívica asks for legal medical expertise to determine Ricardo Salgado’s “real state of health”

A principal suspect in various cases into alleged corruption, Ricardo Salgado’s name came up yet again this week as the public ministry lodged its accusations against former economy minister Manuel Pinho.

According to the charge sheet, Mr Salgado effectively ‘bought’ Mr Pinho to ensure the latter furthered the interests of the Grupo Espírito Santo.

But even though he faces multiple suspicions in several investigations, Mr Salgado may ‘escape justice’ by dint of the fact that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. 

At least, this is the claim of defence lawyers, whose arguments the Frente Cívica association want independently checked.

This isn’t the first time queries have arisen over Mr Salgado’s state of health.

Well over a year ago, the general medical council said it was “available for independent evaluation” of Mr Salgado’s condition – an offer defence lawyers appear not to have taken up.

Thus this week’s letter from Frente Cívica to the Portuguese Attorney General Lucília Gago.

Says Lusa, “the group noted that lawyers for Salgado have alleged that Ricardo Salgado suffers from Alzheimer’s disease as grounds to prevent him from going to trial or being convicted in the various cases in which he is a defendant, following the collapse in 2014 of BES and the group of which it formed a part.

“The association recalls that following the charge sheet issued by prosecutors in the so-called ‘EDP case’ to defendants Ricardo Salgado, former economy minister Manuel Pinho and his wife Alexandra Pinho, the former’s lawyers requested that the charges against him be dropped, alleging that he suffers from a neurological illness that prevents him from defending himself in court.

“The Frente Cívica also stresses that the “same allegation has been made and reiterated in the different cases in which Ricardo Salgado is a defendant (and in one of the cases, he has already been convicted in the first instance), feeding the notion in public opinion that the Office of Public Prosecutions is persecuting a defenceless citizen, incapacitated by mental illness.”

“In the view of the association, “such an allegation has never been independently demonstrated, being used, on the one hand, to prevent the criminal accountability of a citizen involved in numerous cases of great corruption, practised over many years; and, on the other, to sustain a campaign of victimisation of the accused in the eyes of public opinion.”

“So, the group stresses in its letter (…) a medical expert should be asked to clarify whether or not Salgado suffers from Alzheimer’s and, if so, what is the state of progression of the disease, and if its evolution prevents him from making statements in court.

“The association also says that, under the terms of the law, it is up to Portugal’s Institute of Forensic Medicine to carry out this expertise, using doctors registered with the Portuguese Medical Association’s neurology speciality branch, with experience in the specific diagnosis of diseases of cognitive decline and dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.

“If the institute does not have doctors available with these competencies, the medical association should be asked to appoint a qualified expert, states the Frente Cívica”.

To put it bluntly, “it’s time the country knows if Ricardo Salgado has the most opportune  Alzheimer’s in history, or if this is a pretext created by his lawyers”, João Paulo Batalha, of the association has told Observador’s online radio channel.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com