Will PS Socialists concede this latest request for clarification? Rui Rocha hopes they do
Will PS Socialists concede this latest request for clarification? Rui Rocha hopes they do. Image: Lusa

Calls to hear president’s son on €4 million medication case-that-won’t-go-away

Portugal’s swirling favoritism controversy keeps on running

The news over this long weekend has been almost equally divided between politicians criticising each other (in the ‘election race’ that will be filling column inches until March 10) or alluding to the €4 million medication case-that-won’t-go-away: the favoritism controversy over what was without doubt preferential treatment given to twin babies ‘championed’ by the son of the president of Portugal.

Today, Rui Rocha, leader of opposition party Iniciativa Liberal has announced he will be pushing for a parliamentary hearing of the president’s son (Nuno Rebelo de Sousa) in the hope that PS Socialists won’t “block these clarifications again”.

Speaking to Lusa, Rocha referred to the fact that the PS blocked requests to hear the minister of health at the time of the twins’ treatment, and her secretary of State (who personally made their appointment at Santa Maria Hospital, having previously said this was something no secretary of State would ever do…) 

“Taking into account” the contradictory versions of this controversy that is well into its ‘enth week, IL says it is time the Portuguese people hear “from people who may have direct knowledge of the facts” – hence the plan to see Nuno Rebelo de Sousa address the parliamentary health committee.

As Rocha explains, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s son has been cited as “having had some kind of intervention in this matter”; “there are even reports that he met with the secretary of state for health at that time, Lacerda Sales.

“In view of the PS’s blockade, it is necessary to call Nuno Rebelo de Sousa to parliament so that he can say if there is any involvement on his part and contribute to enlightening the Portuguese on this matter,” says Rocha.

“If there were an attempt to stop this (request)” as has happened with all recent requests “we would have to interpret that there is an interest here that is difficult to understand in blocking clarification to the Portuguese, people” he went on.

The IL leader acknowledged that there are administrative and legal proceedings underway but still believes there is a need for Nuno Rebelo de Sousa to speak

As Lusa points out, the matter is being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office, the General Inspection of Health Activities (IGAS) and is the subject of an internal audit at Santa Maria Hospital.

Speaking to journalists in an auditorium at the Palácio de Belém last week, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa gave an account of the correspondence in the presidency about this case between October 21 and 31, 2019, saying that it started with an email that his son, Nuno Rebelo de Sousa, sent him, which he said had been forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office.

According to Portugal’s head of state, what “is clear is that the president, faced with a claim from a citizen like any other, gives the most neutral and equal order that he has given in countless cases” without there having been “an intervention by the president due to the fact that he is a son or not a son”.

Asked about Nuno Rebelo de Sousa’s intervention in this case, the president said that his son “wanted to show solidarity, he wanted to present the case”. He said he didn’t know if his son had contacted anyone from the Ministry of Health invoking his father’s name and the relationship between the two. If he had, the president said, this would be “totally unacceptable“. ND

Source material: LUSA