Former government VIPs to speak out in Golden Visa trial

The long-awaited trial into alleged Golden Visa corruption opens in Lisbon on Monday, with an impressive line-up for one-time political heavyweights due to be called in the defence of former interior minister Miguel Macedo.

According to reports, former PSD defence minister José Pedro Aguiar Branco, former Justice minister Paula Teixeira da Cruz and former mayor of Porto Rui Rio are all prepared to put their hands in the fire for Macedo, who refutes all the crimes lined up against him.

Macedo is accused of prevarication (failure to carry out his public duties) and the trafficking of influences.

According to reports today, his defence claims that “nothing the Public Ministry affirms about the defendant is true, or makes any sense”.

A 671-point document apparently accused the Public Ministry of “falling into the temptation of filling in pieces of reality that it did not hear with its own convictions”.

The Golden Visa inquiry hit the headlines in 2014 and involves 21 ‘arguidos’ (official suspects), among them former notary institute boss António Figueiredo, and former SEF director Manuel Jarmela Palos.

Figueiredo spent months in jail before being released to house arrest, wearing an electronic bracelet.

This investigation will be a real ‘test’ of the huge stable of corruption probes currently running in Portugal. If it starts to fail, as defence lawyers will be hoping, it will cast a shadow over other inquiries that continue to exceed the usual judicial timelines (BES, Monte Branco, Marquês…)

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