Olhão’s former mayor has “tranquil conscience” as yet more dodgy planning allegations bob to surface

In the run-up to municipal elections, Olhão’s former PS mayor Francisco Leal is back in hot water – along with four former colleagues – accused of the crime of ‘prevarication’, reports national tabloid Correio da Manhã.

Prevarication (malfeasance/ wrongdoing) relates in this case to the “irregular licensing” of a house in the natural park of Ria Formosa.

Three-storey Bias do Sul, near Fuseta, was built in 2005 on land set aside solely for agriculture, explains the paper.

According to Évora’s DIAP (department of investigation and penal action), Leal and his colleagues were all well aware that “it was not allowed to construct a house exclusively for habitation on the land” in question, but they went ahead “violating their duties” with the sole purpose of benefitting the applicant, whom regional English-language news service algarvedailynews describes as “the son of a local bigwig”.

According to CM, the rogue licensing was ‘nodded through’ “because of the personal and political links” that the defendants had with both the son and his (bigwig) father.

Facing the latest accusation with former councillors Vítor Lopes, Luís Medeiros, Gil Vicente de Conceição and PSD opposition representative Eduardo Cruz, this is not the only blot on Leal’s almost 20 year record of public service at the helm of Olhão town council.

CM explains he is “also accused of prevarication in another case”, involving the alleged under-charging of taxes to a local building contractor. According to the paper, the municipality lost out on almost €6.5 million in taxes, charging the contractor just €450,000 instead of €7 million.

However Leal appears to be remaining sanguine. He was not immediately available for comment over this latest accusation, but CM writes that in a recent conversation with the paper, the former mayor “guaranteed” that he “is of tranquil conscience”.

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Photo: Taken by regional weekly Barlavento when Francisco Leal was appointed regional coordinator for the PS in this year’s upcoming municipal elections.