Sócrates “to be formally accused by October 19”

Two days before the country goes to the polls the spectre of José Sócrates is looming high on all fronts. With TVI24 declaring the campaign for PS leader António Costa has been dogged by the former prime minister’s state of imprisonment, the “will he/ won’t he” debate over whether Sócrates will exercise his right to vote has at least been settled. He will be voting, writes Visão magazine – in a booth “installed at a car sales stand”, three kilometres from his ‘home-under-house-arrest’ in Lisbon’s Rua Abade Faria.

But as the former political firebrand’s defence team continue to harangue the Public Ministry – accusing prosecutors most recently of “bad faith” for querying the judicial ruling that sought to do away with “secrecy of justice” – national tabloid Correio da Manhã has been forecasting what lies ahead, once Sunday’s elections are out of the way.

CM claims the Public Ministry “is preparing to formally accuse José Sócrates by October 19”.

To this end, the investigative team is being beefed up with reinforcements to fast-track work that still lies ahead in the probe that CM says has already taken 27 months, but is now reaching a stage where those held in custody could find themselves ‘freed’ if not charged before legal deadlines expire.

Meantime, CM writes that the PSP police station nearest Sócrates’ home, in Olaias – alongside a “neighbourhood with social problems” – has frequently had to close its doors at night due to the demands of watching over the former PM.

Sócrates’ house arrest with a police guard involves four agents guarding his door in four six-hour shifts. The result, with agents laid off for illness/ holidays, is that the station is often short-staffed.

A PSP source has confirmed that nationally there is a shortage of 4000 agents, and 25% of those in service are over the age of 50 and therefore not ideal for many of the rigours involved.

The issue of police shortages has also been raised over the house arrest in Cascais of former BES banker Ricardo Salgado.

Salgado, too, has been authorised to vote though news on when he may be formally charged has yet to come.

[email protected]