Sócrates bites back from behind bars

Sócrates bites back from behind bars

In an extraordinary week since super-judge Carlos Alexandre sent former PM José Sócrates to jail, political heavyweights have proclaimed their friend’s innocence, there has been a high-profile punch-up in Sócrates’ jail, a magistrate who once threatened to burn himself alive has issued a writ of habeas corpus by way of securing Sócrates’ release and there have been various accounts of how the former leader of the Socialist party had to shower in the communal bathrooms because there was no hot water in his cell.
Accomplished script-writers would have been hard-pressed to come up with the breadth of stories that have filled column inches since Sócrates was driven through the gates of Évora jail at 3am on Tuesday November 23 – and seven days on we hear he is being “guarded by PSP bodyguards round the clock”.
Correio da Manhã reports that Sócrates is not allowed to take “one step” without being watched. The paper writes this is to “avoid situations of tension, insults and conflicts that could compromise his physical integrity”.
Meantime, Sócrates has spoken of the seven crimes said to be set against him: four of various permutations of corruption, one of money-laundering, one of fiscal fraud and another of qualified fiscal fraud.
As former President of the Republic Mário Soares has already affirmed, they are all “nonsense”. “Absurd, unjust and without any foundation” is how Sócrates elaborated on his innocence in a statement given to TSF this week through his lawyer José Araújo.
And the former leader many blame for the collapse of Portugal’s economy maintains the decision to keep him in jail pending any charges let alone a trial is “gratuitous humiliation”.
Indeed, legal experts wonder if it is even justifiable – hence the writ of habeas corpus delivered by Miguel Mota Cardoso in a bid to free Sócrates forthwith.
Cardoso was a law student in 2007 when he enjoyed moments of fame after barricading himself into his university library and threatening to set himself on fire.
Sócrates’ statement
In a written statement to RTP, José Sócrates outlined his innocence in the absence of any charges. He said he had never owned the €4 million apartment in Paris – simply lived in it while it was being lent to him by his friend Carlos Santos Silva (also being held on corruption charges in the same Operation Marquês that involves Sócrates).
The former political leader refuted claims that he had sold apartments in his mother’s name at inflated prices – though RTP carried a report outlining how this seemed extremely unlikely. “We consulted various estate agents and none would give the prices claimed,” said RTP’s Sandra Felgueiras, ending her news segment with the thought: “One thing is certain, a week after being in preventive custody, the former prime minister already has a strategy.”
“I may be behind bars,” he told RTP. “but I will not do them the favour of keeping quiet.”