Lawyers already lodging appeals thanks to ‘metadata bombshell’

Murder trials and 8,000 cases of MBWay fraud at risk of being annulled

Lawyers are wasting no time in lodging appeals thanks to the Constitutional Court’s bombshell ‘metadata ruling’.

Already two have confirmed they are busy filing cases, while over 8,000 prosecutions for MBWay fraud are likely to go the same way.

This was always the concern. The judges’ ruling is retrospective for 14 years.

But today’s stories show how devastating this could be for weeks and months of diligent police work. 

For example, the murder case of triathlete Luís Grilo. This was only ‘proven’ via police access to metadata because the perpetrators, Mr Grilo’s wife Rosa and her lover at the time António Joaquim, erased all incriminating text messages, and never admitted to the crime.

Both are now serving maximum jail terms –  but António Joaquim’s defence lawyer Ricardo Serrano Vieira has confirmed he is “advancing with an extraordinary appeal”.

Says Correio da Manhã, “the appeal will be based on the recent unconstitutionality decreed by the judgement of the Constitutional Court, where (metadata proof) has been annulled.

“In an early stage of the investigation, the Judicial Police (PJ) asked telecoms operators for specific information from the phones of the former lovers. It was possible to detect, for example, an intense flood of calls and written messages before the triathlete’s disappearance – Rosa and her former lover exchanged 21 messages to arrange the death of Luís Grilo – and the almost inexistence of contacts on the day of the murder.

“The investigation also managed to discover the locations visited by Rosa and her former lover before the crime through localisations of the phones”. (again, thanks to metadata)

António Lopes Pereira, the lawyer defending the murderer of a rapper (Mota Júnior) has told Jornal de Notícias that he too will be putting in a bid for his client João Luizo (currently serving 23 years behind bars) to be absolved on the basis that “evidence was collected in an illegal way, with recourse to metadata”.

As Mr Pereira explains, if the evidence of telecommunications made, and localisations visited, was removed the evidence against his client would collapse.

Meantime, Judicial Police have stressed that they need recourse to metadata in order to fight cybercrime: over 8,000 cases could be ruled unconstitutional, while the chances of catching fraudsters in future would be seriously affected.

PM António Costa has admitted a “surgical constitutional revision” may be needed to get round these issues. He convened an extraordinary meeting of the Superior Council of Internal Security yesterday to ‘analyse the practical consequences’ of the Constitutional Court’s decision-making.

Attorney General Luísa Gago meantime is preparing her own attack by way of an appeal.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com