Sócrates’ lawyers affirm “more legal bids in pipeline to block media stories”

As national tabloid Correio da Manhã continues to deride the “providência cautelar” (embargo) instituted against it over publication of details of the case involving former prime minister José Sócrates, it has also revealed that Sócrates’ defence team “has admitted there are more legal bids in the pipeline to block information coming from other press sources”.

Whether this is true or not is unclear.

CM attributes the assertion to Sócrates’ defence lawyer Pedro Delile – saying he “admitted yesterday (Thursday) that he would be advancing with new embargoes to block information in other press organs, other than those owned by the Cofina group” (the group that owns CM and other media concerns).

But Rádio Renascença, reporting on the same day, says Delile has been less than clear on the issue, “referring only that whenever there is any kind of offence or defamation of José Sócrates, there will always be recourse to justice”.

As the case inflames Portuguese media over the tenet of press freedom, president of the syndicate of Public Ministry magistrates António Ventinhas has criticised Sócrates’ defence for “trying to create a unique version of the facts” – but he has also fired a warning shot across his own colleagues’ bows, saying lawyers are bound by Secrecy of Justice. They should not be revealing details of any of their cases, he said.

Where this leaves CM is hard to determine.

In one way, the paper (CMTV television channel and weekend publication Sábado) are all now being careful not to reveal further “evidence” of the Public Ministry investigation.

“We are complying with the judicial decision that impedes us from revealing proof”, explains a text today.

But the paper is still managing four pages of news on Operation Marquês, preceded by a box reminding readers: “CM has been under preconditioned censure for three days”.

The Cofina group is also contesting the gagging order.

Today’s stories refer to the reluctance of authorities in Angola to comply with international arrest warrants to hand over businessman Hélder Bataglia, a significant shareholder in Vale do Lobo resort, in the Algarve, ex-president of Escom – the company involved in brokering Portugal’s controversial submarine deal with a German consortium – and involved in other high-profile concerns that have made the headlines in recent years.

Bataglia was last in Portugal in 2014 – to give evidence to the parliamentary inquiry into the BES banking disaster.

Since then, he is believed to have limited his movements to the African continent.

“The hope of leading Hélder Bataglia to justice resides in his eventual detention in Europe”, CM concludes.

Diário de Notícias – this far free of reporting embargoes – reveals that now Sócrates’ cousin is back in the eye of Marquês investigators.

“Five years after the Public Ministry buried suspicions of corruption in the Freeport case (which came to trial only over the crimes of attempted extortion), one of the mystery personalities of that case has reappeared in Operation Marquês”, writes DN – describing José Paulo Bernardo Pinto de Sousa by his Freeport alias of “the fat one”.

To recap, Operation Marquês centres on corruption, fiscal fraud and money laundering on an apparently vast scale and allegedly connected to former Socialist leader José Sócrates. To date it has 10 defendants. Sócrates, his long-term friend Carlos Santos Silva, former construction boss Joaquim Barroca, and former banker Armando Vara, have all been subject to enforced detention during investigations, but are now all “free” on the understanding that they don’t contact each other, or leave the country.

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