Judge interrupts corruption trial

The judge presiding over the trial of officers from Albufeira’s GNR-Brigada de Trânsito division, who have been accused of corruption, has reprimanded one of the suspect’s defence lawyers, accusing him of adopting an “abusive and intimidating line of questioning”. The 25 officers involved in the case are accused of disregarding traffic violations in return for bribes. The incident occurred between Carlos Espírito Santo, head of the judges, and lawyer Sá Correia, who is defending Sergeant Joaquim Garcia, the officer considered to be the ringleader of the alleged extortion racket. The lawyer was questioning José Cristóvão Luísa, father of businessman Sérgio Luísa, who appeared in court to testify against the BT officers concerned.

Cristóvão admitted that he lent 300 contos (1,500 euros) to his son, allegedly to hand over to Sergeant Garcia as the first of three loans totalling 5,000 euros. The money was allegedly to be used to wipe out a series of fines that had already been handed out to the JC Luísa and Son, Lda lorry firm. But when the two witnesses offered conflicting testimonies regarding the dates of the alleged bribe, Sá Correia accused Cristóvão of lying. This caused the judge to issue his condemnation, saying he was “fed up” with the defence lawyer’s assumptions. The trial of the 25 officers and 10 businessmen is expected to continue until June.