PSD pledge to criminalise “unjustified enrichment” foiled for second time

Judges at Portugal’s Constitutional Court (TC) have yet again vetoed the coalition government’s bid to make “unjustified enrichment” a crime.

While Portugal’s media points out that this sees one of the cornerstones of Passos Coelho’s government “fall” at a crucial pre-election moment, opposition MPs have challenged the seriousness of the bid altogether.

Talking to Público, Catarina Martins of the Bloco de Esquerda claims the “projecto de lei” (proposed law) was simply a “manoeuvre” for the PSD/ CDS “to change nothing”.

Certainly the revised diploma got short shrift from TC judges, who ruled that the two clauses were unconstitutional for the very fact that they went against the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and were as such “a strong sanction in relation to the right of liberty”.

It is an almost verbatim repeat of the judges’ earlier veto in 2012 – and has seen the PSD party vowing not to give up – no matter what transpires in the upcoming elections.

Talking to Lusa news agency, Teresa Leal Coelho, vice-president of the party’s national commission and no apparent relative of the prime minister, said: “Independent of the result of the elections – and I think we will win – we will be presenting a new proposed law with a view to criminalising illicit enrichment”.

Prime Minister Passos Coelho commented that he had not yet read the ruling but that after “the various times that parliament has legislated on this subject to reach a solution that could really be an effective base to have a stronger instrument at the service of the combat of corruption”, it was a pity to have failed.

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