A legend for the fact that no matter how many courts and judges told him to stand down he carried on regardless, Macário Correia – former mayor of Tavira and of Faro – has finally had his say in court.
Appearing yesterday as the trial opened into his alleged “misuse of political office”, Correia was true to form – saying it wasn’t him to blame for so-called illegal planning licences, but a clerical error, forced by undue haste in drawing up boundaries.
The fact that this was not the argument that he appears to have used before was not lost on judges, who are now hearing all the background to a story that goes back almost a decade and could end with Correia receiving an eight-year jail sentence.
For now, he has told the panel that his “illegalities” of issuing five building licences for areas within protect REN (national ecological reserve) land were results of “incorrect boundaries”.
“Even the author of the REN diploma, dated 1993, said it was unfinished,” he told judges, adding that in Tavira, the PDM (municipal plan) was finished in a hurry, so that community funding was not lost.
“In the revised PDM, these plots of land were not within REN,” he added.
As tabloid Correio da Manhã explains: “This was not the argument used in 1997, when the licences were attributed.”
Then, the reasoning used was that “old buildings” could be found on the plots.
This too has been refuted by the former owners of the land – while only last year Correia blamed the whole confusion on “a former member of staff”.
Whatever the truth behind Correia’s reasons for conceding building licences, he told the court that in the end, four of the five authorisations “did not originate in any building”.
The case, taken out by the Public Ministry, continues.