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Sócrates given green-light to leave Portugal for Schengen Space

Still trying to have the corruption investigation against him shelved, former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates won a major battle earlier this week when appeal court judges agreed he should be allowed to leave the country.

Investigators leading Operation Marquês – now running for over two years without any charges having been brought – have insisted that Sócrates should be prevented from travelling abroad or talking to any of his co-defendants. The inference being that if he did, he could compromise the investigation.

But defence lawyers João Araújo and Pedro Delille have quoted a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, centring on the fact that the conditioning of circulation in Schengen Space “violates the spirit of the European Community”.

Added to this is the fact that other defendants have been in and out of the country.

Bárbara Vara, for example, the daughter of former MP Armando, has travelled to the United States. Vara himself has flown to Iraq for ‘business purposes’, while Octapharma boss Paulo Lalanda de Castro has “regularly” flown abroad.

National tabloid Correio da Manhã explains that ‘superjudge’ Carlos Alexandre leading Marquês has never stopped defendants leaving the country “as long as they justify” the reasons.

But Team Sócrates is still falling short of its principal goal: to get Marquês thrown out altogether.

Lawyers argue that all time limits have expired, without any of the 12 defendants being charged and basically ‘enough is enough’.

But their latest appeal to get Marquês archived fell short once again at the appeal court, and eyes now are on September 15 – the latest ‘time limit’ stipulated by the director of DCIAP, Amadeu Guerra (click here).

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com