Judge Ivo Rosa

BES/GES judge is back: but refuses to move faster

Fears are many crimes will lapse before scandal gets to court

Judge Ivo Rosa – the controversial judge in sole charge of the BES/ GES case – is back at work after a prolonged absence due to heart surgery – and showing no signs of making up for lost time.

As reports keep explaining, those interested in seeing this long-running scandal tried in a courtroom are seriously concerned many of the crimes at issue will ‘lapse’ due to the snail’s pace of justice.

Banco Espírito Santo liquidators particularly have called for “urgency” now that the judge is back at work.

But, SIC explains, judge Rosa maintains he “does not have the conditions to accelerate the case”.

As the news station has said in the past, this is seen as the “largest” certainly most complex case, in the history of Portuguese justice. It involves 29 ‘suspects’ (23 people and six companies), a total of 361 crimes – and in terms of damages to the State (ergo Portuguese taxpayer) the consequences continue to be dramatic.

The most infamous suspect is former BES/ GES ‘boss of all this’ Ricardo Salgado, facing 65 charges, including criminal association, aggravated fraud, money-laundering and active corruption.

In the almost eight years since the banking empire imploded, Mr Salgado has developed Alzheimer’s disease and is said to be in no condition for any kind of questioning.

Nonetheless, today is meant to see the beginning of the ‘pre-trial’ hearing of evidence – all in the hands of Judge Rosa, a litigator with a reputation for locking horns with public prosecutors and dismantling cases

SIC cites him today justifying his refusal to move any faster on the basis that “the role of the judge of criminal instruction is not a mere bureaucratic instance of the Public Ministry, nor can the process of decision-making become a mere uncritical adhesion to the position of the Public Ministry and assistants. I take the position of the suspects”.

This case, and ‘Marquês’ – the equally long, drawn-out case alleging high-level corruption involving former prime minister José Sócrates – show no sign of ‘accelerating’ towards any kind of finishing line anytime soon.

Today’s opening in the much delayed ‘instruction phase’ was meant to have heard four witnesses, among them former banker and cousin of Mr Salgado, José Maria Ricciardi, but ended up only hearing two – neither of whom were Mr Ricciardi.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com