Ricardo Salgado
Former president of BES Ricardo Salgado in the days leading up to the demise of Banco Espírito Santo / Grupo Espírito Santo

“Unable to give statements; denies practice of crimes”: EDP/ BES cases on increasingly wobbly ground

Defence for main suspect Ricardo Salgado calls for medical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s

Years on from the implosion of the BES/ GES banking empire which caused billions of euros in damages – and even more years on from the alleged facts underpinning corruption at EDP – the defence counsel for ‘suspect’ Ricardo Salgado has delivered a fait-accompli: their client is unable to make any kind of statements, and denies the practice of crimes stacked against him.

The issue of Alzheimer’s has been raised in the past – but this is the first time defence lawyers have shown themselves open to independent medical expertise to corroborate it.

And it is not because the trial into the BES scandal is any closer; it is to do with the accusations against Mr Salgado in the EDP case (another investigation that has taken well over a decade to still not reach a courtroom).

In EDP, the 78 year old former banker is accused of active corruption, and money laundering. 

The Public Prosecutor’s case hinges on Mr Salgado having been the ‘active corruptor’ of Manuel Pinho (former economy minister in the years of José Sócrates, who also denies the practice of crimes levelled against him).

According to Mr Salgado’s legal team, his clinical situation has continued to evolve unfavourably since they first highlighted it – hence the inability to make any kind of statements or “fully exercise” the right to a defence.

Should a medical neurological examination conclude that this is in fact the case, the next step will be for defence lawyers to ensure “the extinction/ closure of the present case regarding the defendant” – and very possibly every other case involving him in the constipated avenues of the country’s legal system.

Lusa stresses that, “for lawyers Francisco Proença de Carvalho and Adriano Squilacce, given the medical reports, Ricardo Salgado “cannot even be accused or pronounced, much less submitted to any trial“. They have suggested the medical expertise of the Laboratory of Language Studies at the University Clinic of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, insisting “this is not a subterfuge (…) not a delaying tactic. It is (…) a disease, which irreversibly affects the accused”.

The defence team adds that the EDP accusation against their client is one that “is based on a speculative narrative, exacerbated with adjectives and ‘novelette theories’, full of irrelevant facts and, to a large extent, based on newspaper reports. And on top of all this, it is an accusation that, paradoxical as it may seem, invoked as ‘means of proof’ an accusation made by the Public Prosecutor’s Office itself in another case” (referring to the BES/GES case).

If the pre-trial hearing concurs with this legal opinion it will prove right all those who in the past have said this whole investigation will “end up in the lake”.

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