Sócrates’ five-page diatribe alleging “monstrous” political witch-hunt gets muted reaction

Six weeks before the elections, jailed former prime minister José Sócrates has once again resorted to a five-page letter to the media, this time claiming his “politically-motivated” nine-month detention on what he claims are trumped-up charges has all been designed to ensure the Socialist (PS) party does not get into power.

The letter to Jornal de Notícias has nonetheless revealed nothing new on the many questions surrounding Sócrates’ millionaire lifestyle during his years in and out of power.

Indeed, commentators were quick to point out that the former PS leader has skirted round all the “issues”, giving “no facts or answers”.

The former Socialist leader’s constant allegations of political witch-hunt alluded briefly to the police investigation of the sale of his Lisbon apartment to Pakistani lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan (click here Pakistani lawyer who purchased Sócrates’ apartment hits back at money-laundering claims).

He claims that the source of Ali Khan’s payments for the €675,000 property is being investigated solely because the apartment used to be his.

But as national tabloid Correio da Manhã observes Sócrates does not dwell on the recent Expresso story that claims Ali Khan “feels cheated” over the deal, as when his lawyers received the keys to the luxury apartment sold as a furnished property, they opened the front door onto a series of completely empty rooms.

As university lecturer André Ventura commented, Sócrates’ letter – covered at length on SIC TV news last night – is “essentially political” and “an attempt to further pressure the investigation and the courts”.

Former PJ inspector, writer and TV commentator Carlos Anjos said it came “at the worst moment, at a time when the Public Ministry is due to pronounce on bail measures” (click here Jailed former PM José Sócrates is clearing his prison cell ahead of impending release)

“It will damage the case”, he told CM.
Elsewhere, fears are that Sócrates’ apparent impending release from Évora jail, on whatever bail measures, could cast a shadow on the head-to-head TV debate, scheduled between PSD leader Passos Coelho and his main adversary, António Costa.

But which of the two men would be most damaged is still unclear.

For now, Sócrates’ letter refers to much of the alleged corruption in which he is thought to have been involved.

Suspicions, he writes, have jumped from deals in Portugal, Angola, Venezuela, “perhaps Algeria” and “back to Portugal, but this time the Algarve (oscillating here between PROTAL, urbanistic operations never defined in the resort of Vale do Lobo and a loan conceded by Caixa Geral de Depósitos, of which I have nothing to do with) and, now it seems, they are on their way to Brazil”.

Investigators believe he was involved in dirty dealings over PPP road-projects, the Parque Escolar school refurbishment programme, the TGV high-speed train and “even the airport (Alcochete) that was never built”, he adds, but they fail to explain what exactly he is understood to have done that was “illicit”.
Up until now, Sócrates has lost all his appeals against imprisonment, though there is one final appeal that is being considered by Lisbon’s appeal court and should be decided upon around the time superjudge Carlos Alexandre is expected to concede to bail.

Sócrates thus remains under suspicion of corruption, money-laundering and fiscal fraud without any formal charges having yet been presented.

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