In a shock move, Adelino Salvado, head of the Polícia Judiciária (PJ), tendered his resignation earlier this week, and Justice Minister Aguiar Branco immediately accepted it.
The police chief’s resignation came two days after the theft of possibly incriminating tape recorded conversations between Salvado and a journalist from Portuguese daily newspaper Correio da Manhã.
The conversations are believed to be about the Casa Pia paedophile scandal. Salvado has now issued a violently worded press statement, claiming that political and economic interests were trying to undermine him and his work. The revelations contained in the tapes are now beginning to filter through to judicial, political and journalistic circles. It is believed that the tapes may reveal grave failings or even illegalities in the way information regarding the Casa Pia scandal was leaked, so violating the justice system.
Although the exact details are unknown, top lawyer Rui Pereira says that whatever is said on the tapes, it remains a fact that any incriminating evidence obtained via telephone bugging devices is not admissible in court. Bugging has to be officially sanctioned by the authorities for it to qualify as evidence.
In his resignation letter, Salvado said he had been subjected to “a wave of violent attacks by people via the media” simply because he had been exercising his responsibilities From page 1
as National Director of the PJ. Salvado said that during the course of his work he had alarmed many people, entities and other interested parties which feared that his work to improve the PJ has increased the chances of criminal networks being exposed.
Salvado also denounced “scurrilous insinuations and articles in the press, television programmes, anonymous and despicable letters, manoeuvres and briefings” – a process that, he claims, has now culminated with “the illegal distribution of digitally recorded conversations” (the tapes). He also made clear that, in his view, the actions are part of a concerted strategy, from “political or economic circles and the fringes of wider criminal circles”.
In a short statement, Justice Minister Aguiar Branco accepted the police chief’s resignation, stating that he and new Prime Minister Santana Lopes expressed “recognition and gratitude for the work conducted during the period in which Salvado was at the helm of the PJ”. Branco refused to comment at all on the tape theft, stating only that the government expressed its total confidence in the PJ and in its agents, as they were a subsidiary of the justice ministry.
Salvado’s resignation has also prompted the resignation of six national directors of the PJ, who appear to have quit in sympathy. At the time of going to press, the Justice Ministry was due to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss Salvado’s successor. More damning revelations are expected to come in the next few weeks.