Archive photo of Eduardo Cabrita. Image: ANTÓNIO COTRIM/LUSA

Former minister in pre-trial hearing, suspected of negligent homicide/ dangerous driving

Eduardo Cabrita was not in driver’s seat of car that killed roadworker Nuno Santos

Eduardo Cabrita, former interior minister and ‘right hand’ of prime minister António Costa, will be back defending himself this week against formal suspicions of negligent homicide and dangerous driving in the tortuous case of the death of motorway roadworker Nuno Santos almost exactly two years ago.

As Expresso journalist Hugo Franco has been acknowledging in interview, “this has been a case full of zig-zags in relation with the former minister”.

Mr Cabrita has always maintained that he was “just a passenger” in the BMW car that hit Mr Santos as he made his way to the verge from the central reservation.

But legal arguments insist that as minister Mr Cabrita was ‘in charge of the BMW’. His security detail was travelling in a car behind, making Mr Cabrita the ‘authority’ which, in theory, set the speed and trajectory of the car.

If this prosecution goes to trial, and if Mr Cabrita “is pronounced for this crime of negligent homicide, he could effectively be condemned and it could be with a heavy sentence. We could be talking about 10 years in jail”, Franco has told SIC Notícias.

Today, new witnesses are being heard by Évora judges, ahead of Mr Cabrita’s questioning, scheduled for Friday – as well as that of his former security detail, Nuno Miguel Dias.

Complicating this story further is the fact that Marco Pontes, Mr Cabrita’s driver at the time of the accident – and so far the only person in the story who has been formally charged with causing death by dangerous driving – has stressed that he was ‘only following orders’ and did not even have the correct training for driving ‘high ranking figures’. His defence counsel told Pontes’ pre-trial hearing last December, that Pontes had repeatedly requested this training but it had been delayed “by those with decision-making powers”.

Another ‘crinkle’ is that the case against Mr Cabrita was initially archived – but later reinstated.

In short, it has been a fairly shambolic case, right from the outset. Friday may see Mr Cabrita’s fate finally determined.

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