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Attorney General refuses to advance on date for Sócrates’ criminal charges

“After almost a year of preventive custody, the prosecution’s insistences that there are “strong suspicions” of corruption, fraud and money-laundering on a massive scale, the Attorney General’s own comment: “I think he should be in jail”, four years of police inquiries and various investigative trips to France, Switzerland and Brazil”, Portugal’s Public Ministry has shown itself still unable to say when it will be elaborating its accusation(s) against former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates, “despite the fact that all legal time limits have now been exceeded”.

This is the way legal experts are greeting news that an end to Operation Marquês appears not to be in sight.

To be fair, the long-running inquiry still has one last time-limit up its sleeve: next Thursday, September 15.

But DCIAP director Amadeu Guerra has already admitted this may have to be extended (click here) – a contention that Attorney General Joana Marques Vidal has appeared to confirm.

Photographed by noticiasaominuto website looking exasperatedly over her glasses, she has “refused to be drawn on a date for the conclusion of Operation Marquês”, telling journalists only that “they will be informed at the appropriate moment”.

Despite “insistence” on the part of assembled men and women of the media, Vidal stood her ground.

“You will have access to all information at the moment in which we believe to be the adequate moment to give the information that we have available to you”, she said.

It was the kind of contorted response that fans the flames of doubt that Marquês will ever be properly dealt with.

Vidal affirmed, said noticiasaominuto, that there are “teams of magistrates at DCIAP, as well as in other departments, that are working exclusively in the investigation of the most complex cases” that the country has on its books.

“I think that we, the Public Ministry, can and should bet on the celerity of intense criminal investigation in the more important cases that we consider most relevant”, she said.

But her words appear to be just more prevarication in the endless inquiry which the man-in-the-street has long since stopped worrying about.

Meantime, a relaxed and tanned José Sócrates has recently been photographed at a birthday dinner to which 40 close friends were invited, including minister for foreign affairs Augusto Santos Silva.

According to newspaper reports, everyone paid for their own meal (€20).

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com