It has been a long hard fight to stay at the head of his rural council, but this week Aljezur’s vehemently anti-oil mayor José Amarelinho got more bad news.
According to Lusa, the Constitutional Court has rejected his appeal against repeated condemnations for licensing illegalities going back almost three decades.
If this is the end of the judicial line, Amarelinho will have no option now but to leave his post, and pay the fine of €5000 (to environmental association LPN) or face three years and two months in jail.
Says Lusa today, Constitutional court judges vetoed his attempt at an appeal on December 20, saying there were simply no constitutional grounds to support it.
Also rejected was the appeal by former Aljezur mayor-turned-lawyer Manuel Marreiros, whose jail term fixed by Lagos Court in 2012 is slightly longer: four years three months, also suspended pending the payment of €5000 to environmental association Almargem.
Neither man put forward any new arguments to justify their appeals, explains the latest ruling, instead falling back on “the reasons for disagreement which they had already indicated in the ordinary appeals previously lodged with Évora Court of Appeal”.
The issue refers to a private prosecution taken out by property owners in Vale da Telha – a sprawling urbanisation on the coast near Aljezur.
Amarelinho and Marreiros have been fighting their convictions since 2012, almost succeeding at one point when the case was annulled, but the new verdict came back essentially the same: loss of mandates for both and fines payable to environmental associations in exchange for suspended jail terms.
The condemnations centred on court findings that the pair licensed building works at Vale da Telha “without observance of the municipal plan… acting with indifference before the law (…) taking advantage of their council powers, favouring the conditions in which they exercised their office and supporting their friends and backers”.
In July last year, when an appeal to Évora Court of Appeal floundered (click here), Amarelinho said he would be appealing not only to the Constitutional Court but also to the Supreme Court of Justice.
Whether this second route is still open is now the question.
According to Lusa, when contacted the mayor informed them that as far as he was concerned, the Constitutional Court appeal was still going through its paces.
“When the judgement becomes final, irrespective of the decision, I will give a public statement”, he told the State news agency.
Reacting to the news, anti-oil campaigner Laurinda Seabra said Amarelinho’s enforced removal from the political scene would be a “great loss for the fight.
“He has been the driving force of the Algarve mayors’ oil stance. He really is the only one who has consistently spoken out against. Let’s see what happens…” she said.