Judge Ivo Rosa

Will Portugal’s former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates go in dock for corruption? Decision to be announced after lockdown

The decision on whether or not Portugal’s former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates is to face trial for corruption on a massive scale “has been made”.

Judge Ivo Rosa has spent the last eight months seemingly copiously going through all the evidence presented.

Says Expresso he has come up with a final document that will have “in the minimum 4,000 pages”. It is still being finalised – but the judge’s decision will only be made public after the country’s State of Emergency has ended, says the paper.

This is a case – dubbed ‘Operation Marquês’ – that itself took years to compile. The litany of charges against 28 official suspects (including disgraced former BES banking boss Ricardo Salgado) themselves take up 4,000 pages in 116 volumes with ‘around 600 appended issues attached’.

Sócrates is charged with 31 counts of receiving bribes, money laundering, falsifying documents and tax fraud. 

Public prosecutors sustain that the former secretary-general of the country’s Socialist Party received around 34 million euros between 2006-2015 in exchange for favouring the interests of former banker Ricardo Salgado in Group Espírito Santo and for guaranteeing that (State Bank) CGD conceded finance to the Vale do Lobo complex in the Algarve.

Among many other points, investigators also allege further ‘business deal’ fixing in what has developed into an Ariadne’s thread entangling former senior figures from Portugal’s banking and corporate elites.

Throughout the process – peppered by sensationalist revelations in various national newspapers – José Sócrates has maintained his innocence.

Says Expresso today, the fact it has taken eight months since the close of the ‘instruction process’ for Judge Rosa to come to a decision is being interpreted as a sign that he is not going along with everything in the Public Ministry accusation. 

Indeed, very few of the lawyers involved in this extraordinary process expected him to.

“The great doubt is whether José Sócrates will have to face trial for the crime of corruption at all”, says Expresso. 

It may be that the case goes forwards with the former PM answering ‘only’ to accusations of the ‘less serious crimes’ of tax evasion and money-laundering, suggests the paper.

In 2014, when this case first blasted onto the headlines (click here), many predicted that it would ‘never get anywhere’ – and that José Sócrates would certainly never be found guilty.

Marquês went on to become a roller-coaster of mind-boggling revelations – but it looks as though finally the country will discover whether a judge considers any of them worth going forwards with in what promises to be the most sensational inspection of high-level skullduggery in Portugal’s modern history.

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