Sócrates stays behind bars

Sócrates stays behind bars

In an evening of high drama, the nation held its breath for almost four hours. News of the fate of former prime minister José Sócrates – under interrogation for alleged money laundering, tax fraud and corruption – was promised at 6.30pm. It came finally a little before 10.30pm. The Socialist leader, whom many claim led Portugal to bankruptcy, is to remain in police custody.
After three days of intense questioning by “super judge” Carlos Alexandre and public prosecutor Rosário Teixeira, Sócrates’ hopes to be allowed to return to some kind of normality seem to have been dashed.
Remaining in custody alongside him are two of the other defendants in the case that has been dubbed Operation Marquês.
Sócrates’ lifelong friend Carlos Santos Silva – the businessman who has been cited in numerous other investigations in which Sócrates has been implicated though never charged – is also to remain behind bars, along with the politician’s long-term driver João Perna.
The only defendant who will be going home this evening is lawyer Gonçalo Ferreira, who is nonetheless bound over to release his passport to the authorities and prohibited from contacting any other of the defendants.
For more details of this fast developing story, see our updates coming online and in the paper edition of the Resident out this Thursday.
As all are agreed, this is a unique situation in the history of Portuguese democracy. Never before has a former prime minister been taken into custody in this way. Never before have charges so serious been in the offing. And never before has one judge – Carlos Alexandre – been in charge of so many high-level cases of corruption.
By NATASHA DONN