Sócrates appeals for special dispensation to wear Benfica scarf

In Évora jail for the last two months, former Socialist PM José Sócrates is understood to have asked for special dispensation to wear the Benfica scarf left for him at the prison’s reception shortly after his arrival.

It is not simply that he supports Benfica, but that he is cold, explain newspapers.

But the move has prompted criticisms from the families of other prisoners, who contend Sócrates is getting VIP treatment because of who he is.

“It is very strange. A scarf has never before been permitted in jail,” remarked one.

The reason is the “risk of asphyxia” that scarves pose. But Sócrates is understood to have stressed there is no risk in his case – only that he wants to wear the scarf because of “the intense cold felt in Évora” since the start of the cold snap.

His lawyer João Araújo confirmed last night on SIC television that Sócrates will get the scarf. He may even get to meet the supporter who left it for him – a man known as “Barbas” because of his bushy beard and wild coiffure.

Cold or otherwise, Sócrates continues to receive a steady stream of visitors and busloads of supporters regularly make the journey to Évora jail to stand outside in protest to what they see as his unfair politically-motivated jailing.

Twice President of the Republic Mário Soares has visited Sócrates three times since November and called repeatedly for the intervention of current President Cavaco Silva.

Soares’ calls have been backed up by the Socialist Party’s former secretary of state for European Affairs, Seixas da Costa, who claims in a blog that there have been “serious irregularities” in Justice and that Cavaco Silva should intervene if only to determine the source of the constant leaks to the press detailing Sócrates’ alleged corrupt business practices.

The former diplomat maintains there are two hypotheses at play. Either the leaks are false – in which case the justice system should say so, to put an end to them – or they are true.

If they are true, where are they coming from?

That, says Seixas da Costa, is where the real irregularities would seem to be at play.

If they are being leaked by the investigators themselves, this would suggest an “absurd and ridiculous” state of affairs, and a practice that would make nonsense of the entire investigation.

José Sócrates has been held in preventive custody on suspicion of qualified tax fraud, corruption and money-laundering. Despite the weeks in jail, and column inches of allegations involving millions of euros, he has yet to be charged with any offence.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]