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Legal ‘blip’ sees former Benfica boss freed from Portuguese jail

The incredible story of former Benfica boss and convicted fraudster Vale e Azevedo entered a new chapter yesterday when he was released from Sintra’s Carregueira jail, despite the fact that technically he should be serving another 10 years behind bars.

The judicial ‘blip’ comes from the fact that when he was finally extradited to Portugal to serve the remainder of his sentence (after having skipped the country for a life of luxury in London’s exclusive Belgravia), his International Arrest Warrant only specified the 11-and-a-half year sentence received for three cases.

It made no mention of the later 10-year sentence for another set of money-raking crimes.

Thus the dilemma. As national tabloid Correio da Manhã explains, the urbane former lawyer “cannot serve a sentence different to the one for which his extradition was requested”.

He also no longer lives at the address in London which appeared on the extradition documents.

A solution, says CM, would be to “authorise his return to London, and later request extradition once again, so that he serves 10 more years in jail”.

As unlikely as this sounds, he may not have a choice, explains ionline. A legal source tells the paper that Vale e Azevedo now has a 45-day period, at the end of which he can either return to England, or risk re-arrest in Portugal.

For now, nothing is clear, other than the fact that Vale e Azevedo has been described as leaving the prison that houses many former VIPs “full of smiles”.

There was no talk at all of any trips to London. Far from it. The former football boss who left the nation’s premier club in 2002 in financial tatters went straight to his comfortable home nearby in the leafy Sintra hills, and is said to be keen to “re-establish contacts” and get back into the world of business.

His lawyer Luísa Cruz told reporters that “the businesses with which Dr. Vale e Azevedo worked are still interested in his services”.

All he has to do now, she said, is “reorgainse his life”.