Manuel Pinho ordered to remain under house arrest
The endlessly running question over whether or not VIP defendants would ever stand trial in the so-called EDP corruption case has been answered today. They will.
Former economy minister (PS) Manuel Pinho; former banking boss Ricardo Salgado will both be facing trial on various charges, including money laundering and fiscal fraud.
Also sent to trial has been Manuel Pinho’s wife Alexandra.
Mr Pinho has been held under house arrest for the last 16 months – a situation due to have ended tomorrow. But now that Judge Gabriela Assunção has decided that the case go forwards “exactly under the terms of the accusation”, Mr Pinho must remain confined to his home in Braga, at least for the time being.
As reports explain, Manuel Pinho (minister of economy between 2005-2009, during the Sócrates years) is accused one crime of passive corruption for an illicit act, another crime of passive corruption, a crime of money-laundering and a crime of fiscal fraud.
Mr Pinho’s wife is accused of coauthorship with her husband of one crime of money-laundering and one crime of fiscal fraud.
Ricardo Salgado – whose defence counsel has stressed he is unfit to plea and/ or defend himself properly, due to advancing Alzheimer’s – is accused of one crime of active corruption for an illicit act, another crime of active corruption, and a crime of money-laundering.
As SIC television news reporter Diogo Torres explains, the prosecutor’s case hinges on the fact that Manuel Pinho received a monthly payment of €15,000 from Ricardo Salgado, which prosecutors see as having been in return for Pinho acting as “a kind of agent infiltrated within the government”.
Judge Assunção has stressed that if defence counsel has extra evidence to bring to the case, they will all have ample time for this during the trial phase.
In other words, this pre-trial hearing was not a trial; it was a moment to analyse the case, and decide whether or not the prosecution’s thesis ‘has legs’ – which the judge believes it has.
The defendants have all denied all the crimes levelled against them, on multiple occasions.