Ana Gomes, former Portuguese ambassador and euro MP, a tireless ‘anti-corruption’ champion and most recently contender in the presidential elections, is back in court this week accused of aggravated defamation by businessman and media mogul Mário Ferreira.
As Público confirms, this is a long-running battle between the two going back many years.
“At issue are considerations of the businessman of the Mystic Invest/ Douro Azul group and of TVI, produced by the former ambassador on SIC Notícias and on Twitter, following investigations and searches related to the sub-concession of Viana do Castelo Shipyards (ENVC) and business deals in ships”, says the paper.
“Reacting to a tweet from the prime minister António Costa, after having participated in the baptism of the MS World Explorer on April 7, 2019 (a ship constructed at ENVC by the Mystic Invest group) the former presidential candidate Ana Gomes lamented the fact that the government was treating “a notorious crook/ tax criminal” as if he were “a great businessman”.
Ana Gomes also described the sale of the ferryboat (Atlântida) to Mário Ferreira as “a con”.
Indeed the month before, Ms Gomes had described the sale, again on SIC Notícias, as “a completely corrupt scheme”, which she said she herself has been able to ‘conclusively demonstrate’.
On the basis that defamation in Portugal is still considered a serious crime (so-called offences to people’s good name creating untold business for lawyers called in for either side) it is hardly surprising that Ms Gomes comments saw Mr Ferreira react.
According to a dispatch issued by the Porto department of investigation and penal action in September 2020 Ana Gomes was cited for two crimes of aggravated defamation, which potentially could carry jail terms if she is found guilty.
Público says Mário Ferreira and the Public Ministry believe Ms Gomes’ considerations “manifestly offended the honour and good name” of Mr Ferreira, as well as his “image and consideration”.
The accusation against Ms Gomes points out that in spite of all the controversy, there has not been one accusation made against Mr Ferreira, or any of his companies.
This is a kind of ‘next round’ in the battle of words and injured honour rooted in the whole story of what went on at the Viana do Castelo shipyards (click here).
A previous complaint lodged by Mr Ferreira about comments made by Ms Gomes against him (on the same subject) was archived, but he then appealed.
At the time of the archiving, he told Rádio Renascença that Ana Gomes “shouldn’t play with us… this little game will cost her, until she learns to hold her tongue” (click here).
Ms Gomes replied: “Mário Ferreira has appealed, and put another case against me in Porto… I have been there, and I will be there when called. He no longer sets foot in the courtroom, he has a lot of money to pay lawyers with”.
Thus the next round in this very personal battle, starting tomorrow at 10am in front of Judge 8 at the Tribunal do Bolhão, in Porto, and is set to continue on Tuesday February 22 at same time.
In the meantime, Ms Gomes has put a link in on her Twitter page, writing: “Now I will have more to tell…”
Ms Gomes is no stranger to defamation actions. She is also facing a case brought against her by former defence minister José Pedro Aguiar (the man who signed the Viana do Castelo shipyard deal). She said when this case came through in 2019 that she not only stands behind every word she said on the subject, but has added further ‘elements’ (of proof) to the picture for DIAP investigators (click here).
UPDATE: After the first day in court, Ana Gomes declared that she wasn’t changing so much as a comma in remarks made that have so upset Mário Ferreira. She added that she has already lodged an official complaint with the European Ombudsman over Ms Ferreira’s business dealings, which, she says, is being investigated.