Within little more than 24-hours since he read out his extraordinary ‘instructory decision’ freeing former prime minister José Sócrates from myriad accusations of corruption, thousands of Portuguese have signed their names to a petition calling for the removal of Judge Ivo Rosa from the Portuguese magistrature.
His ‘verdict’ on the Public Ministry’s arduous years of toil, mounting a massive case against former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates has simply flabbergasted people from every walk of life and level of society (click here).
With commentators’ reacting within minutes last night to the three hours in which Judge Rosa demolished the prosecution’s case, the consensus is that yesterday was an appalling day for Portugal’s already flawed system of justice – and a pretty grim moment for its dodgy democracy as well (click here).
But with all the articles appearing in the press today, perhaps this ‘public petition’ on the ‘petição pública’ site is the best gauge of citizens’ feelings.
The Resident too has received emails from Portuguese living outside the country, all expressing ‘shame’ at admitting to being Portuguese.
Yesterday’s verdict was a bombshell.
As such Vítor Manuel de Magalhães Miranda Neves, one of the many thousands of ashamed Portuguese, has submitted his petition which at time of writing (this sentence) had already gathered over 68,000 signatures.
The ‘demand’ is for Judge Rosa to be removed from the magistrature “because of his partiality and consecutive judicial errors damaging to the State and the Portuguese Nation”.
With curious silence emanating from both the prime minister and President of the Republic, the petition is directed at the president of parliament (Ferro Rodrigues), the Portuguese Ombudsman and the President of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice – and it gives a potted history of Judge Rosa’s alleged partiality.
Says the text: “The conduct of Judge Ivo Rosa has been criticised by the Public Ministry on several occasions for systematically violating laws. It has been criticised by other judges, for decisions taken. This is the judge who absolved the defendants in the “Multibanco gang” case – a gang that dedicated itself to thefts from ATMs using weapons and violent resources. The Public Ministry proved these assaults which took place at night with the use of high-cylinder vehicles, damaging tranquility and public order. One of the defendants was a former operative of FP25 – an armed terrorist group belonging to the extreme-left which operated in Portugal between 1980-87, spreading fear and terror and leading to the deaths of 13 citizens, among them GNR and PJ police agents.
“This same judge, Ivo Rosa, ordered valid proof to be archived – proof that was later confirmed on appeal by judges Simões de Carvalho and Margardida Bacelar, in the case of Moroccan citizen Abdessalam Tazi, accused of belonging to a terrorist group and recruiting for Daesh…”
The petition stands to reflect “the discontent of citizens with regard to successive errors of the IT system which attributed Operation Marquês to Judge Rosa” in the first place.
“Before all the evidence already produced, whether through judgements in the courts or through the media, on the dubious conduct of this judge, we declare that he has no place at the head of the Operation Marquês case. This case demands full clarification and condemnation, if proved, of all those who have damaged the Portuguese State and the Portuguese people”.
And as we wrote this text, the numbers subscribing to the petition had leapt by another 2,000 to 71,742.
This won’t stop tonight. Portugal is in a kind of meltdown: if a young woman trying to enjoy a flask of soup in her own parked car can be fined €200 on the spot, but a case that shows systemic corruption involving tens of millions of euros can ‘walk’ aided by judicial time-limits making prosecution impossible, something is wrong.
President Marcelo has at least said that he hopes Marquês will reach a ‘visible end in due time’. But that won’t cut the mustard when everyone knows there is no visible end (there never has been).
The real danger of this decision is its timing. It comes at a moment when citizens are being dragooned into corners by powers-that-be and feeling that there really is one justice for the ‘little people’ and quite another for those in positions of power.
Respected commentator José Gomes Ferreira said that Judge Ivo Rosa has “rendered a terrible service to justice in this country”, while the equally astute political pundit Luís Marques Mendes told SIC television news last night that the judge’s decision has given everyone a “terrible image of Justice” in Portugal.
As we wrote this text, another 2,000 signatures had been added to Vítor Manuel de Magalhães Miranda Neves’ petition… and elsewhere reports added that the decision yesterday has meant that all property/ assets ‘seized’ by Public Prosecutors have now been released and returned to the new’ non-defendants’.