The tragic and appalling story of how 43-year-old roadworker Nuno Santos came to be mown down by a car transporting disaster-dogged government minister Eduardo Cabrita on the A6 motorway has finally seen the driver of the car accused of negligent homicide.
But it hasn’t seen insinuations of ‘why Mr Santos may have been crossing the highway’ drop.
Interior minister Cabrita continued with these today, telling reporters: “The conditions of crossing an unsigned highway must be clarified in the context of the accident…no one is above the law.”
He re-emphasised meantime his condition as “a passenger” of the powerful BMW series 7 vehicle, and his trust in what he called “the rule of law”.
Television exposés on the way in which this incident has been treated have described how ‘lavatory paper has been taken for DNA testing’, to see whether Mr Santos had been in the process of returning to his team at the side of the motorway, after relieving himself in the central reservation.
The inference has been that lawyers for the defence could be seeking to argue that Mr Santos was not only not working when he was killed but in a location that was unprotected for the exercise of his professional duties.
This is something the Public Ministry refutes, insisting the works on the highway were in evidence and visible.
Today’s accusation brings to an end months of legal limbo for Mr Santos’ devastated family (click here). It also saw the resignation of Eduardo Cabrita (see below).
The investigation is no longer protected by ‘Secrecy of Justice’, and the family’s lawyer will at last be able to see all the evidence (click here) as he advances, or otherwise, with a claim for compensation.
The accusation comes almost six months since the media outcry over the way this case has been handled (click here).
At no point in all these months has anyone in authority come clean about the speed involved.
Today, the Public Ministry reveals that driver Marco Pontes was travelling at 163 km/ h – well over the legal limit, but below media estimates of ‘in excess of 200 km/h’ (click here).
The accusation, drawn up by Évora’s DIAP (department of investigation and penal action) describes Pontes as driving “a motor vehicle in violation of speed and circulation rules provided for in the Highway Code, and with failure to comply with the precautions required by prudence and care imposed by those driving regulations”.
Says Expresso, the next step in this process will be the ‘instruction phase’ in which a magistrate determines whether or not there is sufficient evidence to take this matter to trial.
UPDATE: Eduardo Cabrita has resigned his position this evening, in a defiant speech in which he not only decried the ‘politicising’ of a tragic event but described what he presented as the successes of his four-year tenure. This comes after his performance has been repeatedly slated in the press and by fellow politicians (click here). There was even an occasion where President Marcelo seemed to suggest Mr Cabrita should resign.
Television commentator Luís Marques Mendes described Mr Cabrita not so long ago as a “large political abscess” (click here).
It was on Mr Cabrita’s watch that Ukrainian job seeker Ihor Homeniuk was killed at a holding centre run by SEF at Lisbon airport (click here).
There will be more on this in tomorrow’s press, as Mr Cabrita’s resignation speech was unusual to say the least. He even described the car he was travelling in on that fateful afternoon in June as having been “the victim of an accident”.