Former deputy mayor who swallowed paper during police searches absolved: “I don’t know what was on the paper”

Former deputy mayor of Portimão Luís Carito and nine other defendants have been absolved of all the crimes they were accused, with a panel of judges determining that none of the charges could be proven.

Carito became the most notable suspect for having grabbed a paper out of the hands of a PJ police inspector and swallowed it during a house search.

Accused alongside him were businessmen Artur Curado, Luís Marreiros and Carlos Barros and six companies, all facing charges of money laundering, qualified fraud and participation in illegal business deals relating to the controversial ‘Cidade do Cinema’ project which aimed to turn Portimão into something of a European Bollywood.

The plans never moved forward and shortly after the local council fell into financial disarray, becoming one of the most indebted in Portugal.

However, yesterday came the official announcement that Portimão Court was only able to prove that contracts were signed between municipal companies Turis and Urbis and the companies involved in the creation of the so-called ‘Cidade do Cinema’.

In other words, it found no proof that these contracts defrauded the State or aggravated the municipality’s debt.

Initially, the Public Prosecutor’s Office had accused the defendants of taking part in a “fraudulent scheme” that was believed to have cost the State around €4.6 million.

However, last October, the Public Prosecutor’s Office called for the acquittal of the defendants as it had not been proven “that they acted in a concerted manner, harmed Portimão, or obtained personal benefits”.

Carito was even absolved for having grabbed a paper out of a PJ police inspector’s hands and swallowing it, as the Court says that “it was not possible to determine its content and relevance to the case”.

Speaking to reporters after the final verdict on Thursday, Carito said he was delighted with the outcome.

“I can finally look people in the face and say that it was proven that this whole situation was a mistake, or something else,” he told reporters, complaining that his name and the name of the other defendants were dragged through the mud.

“As we expected, this whole process led to nothing,” Carito said, adding that he has a “completely clear conscience”.

His lawyer Sancho Carvalho Nunes also spoke to reporters, saying that Carito’s innocence was proven “during the trial and not beforehand in the media” and claimed that the paper-swallowing was given more attention by newspapers than it was by “public opinion”.

“As was proven here today, not even that was a crime. Today justice was made and it was made during the trial and not in the newspapers,” he added.

Still, after all this time, no credible explanation has been offered as to why Carito swallowed the paper if in fact he did nothing wrong.

“I don’t know what was on it,” he told reporters.

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