Supreme Court judges reject petition for writ of Habeas Corpus
Portugal’s Supreme Court of Justice has today refused to release former economy minister Manuel Pinho from the house arrest he has been under since last December.
The 67-year-old faces accusations of corruption, money laundering and fiscal fraud. Prosecutors’ case against him in the wider EDP ‘excessive rents’ investigation is that he was ‘corrupted in the exercise of his duties by former banker Ricardo Salgado (himself facing multiple criminal charges on various fronts).
Mr Pinho is further indicted for ‘benefiting BES/GES and hiding money in offshores’, explain reports, adding “there are also suspicions that he was bribed by EDP with an academic career in the United States”.
All the accusations have been denied by the various parties supposedly involved for more than a decade. This is what caused such consternation last year when Judge Carlos Alexandre decided – purportedly on the basis of new evidence – that Manuel Pinho suddenly posed a flight risk and had to be placed under house arrest until he could lodge a bail surety of €6 million.
As all media outlets explained at the time, this was (and remains) the highest bail surety ever to have been set in Portugal.
Mr Pinho said he simply didn’t have that kind of money, and appealed – and in last month, Appeal Court Judges agreed Judge Alexandre couldn’t deprive a suspect of liberty on the basis that he didn’t have €6 million.
This presumably was the moment Mr Pinho thought he had a chance of release – thus the petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Defence lawyer Ricardo Sá Fernandes argued that his client was illegally imprisoned.
However, the Supreme Court judges haven’t seen it this way.
Explains Rádio Renascença “the Supreme understood there was no basis for the petition”.
Thus, for the time being, Mr Pinho remains where he is.
Wife of former banker also remains under house arrest
A similar situation faces Maria de Jesus Rendeiro, the wife for former BPP banking boss João Rendeiro who left Portugal just as he was due to be called to jail.
Due to suspected collusion in the sale of confiscated art works, Mrs Rendeiro has been bound to remain under house arrest with an electronic tag for another three months.
It is understood that she is living in the couple’s mansion in vastly reduced circumstances following the confiscation of all items of luxury.
Her husband meantime is due to appear in court later this month regarding extradition back to Portugal.