After its annual summer recess the Justice Ministry has returned to work with a bang.
It has nothing to do with the thousands of cases piling up to be dealt with, but the leaking court buildings up and down the country that need to be repaired before the winter rains set in.
Work on 31 of them is already scheduled to start this month, with courts in Loulé and Portimão firmly on the to-do list.
In all, the ministry plans €74.5 million worth of improvements on 148 court buildings, to be staggered over the next three years.
National tabloid Correio da Manhã claims that alongside the €36.5 million paid out on “adapting around 100 buildings to the new judicial map” last year, this takes State expenditure on its courts network to €111 million.
The paper delights too in graphic details of rodent infestations within the system and “workers wearing gloves for fear of contamination”.
Maria José Costeira, the president of Portugal’s judges’ syndicate is cited as the font for these ails of the national judiciary, pointing out to CM that security is another issue as “witnesses for the defence and prosecution” are often forced to rub shoulders in the same room.
With juicy cases like Operation Marquês (involving jailed former prime minister José Sócrates), Monte Branco (the financial corruption scandal involving a Who’s Who of public figures), Operation Labyrinth (Golden Visa corruption), BES, BPN and many more waiting for their day in court, it remains to be seen whether buildings are ready in time, or whether the rain really does fall on multiple parades.
Meantime, justice minister Paula Teixeira da Cruz has batted off criticisms saying: “ a mouse here, a mouse there… to be honest, I don’t know of any building sites without mice…”
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