The judge in charge of Operation Marquês, nicknamed the Portuguese Lava Jato due to the investigation carried out among politicians and businessmen, has decided not to prosecute former Prime Minister José Sócrates (2005-2011) for corruption.
With several criticisms of the fragility of the material presented by the prosecution, the judge in charge, Ivo Rosa, dropped all charges of corruption. Socrates, however, will still stand trial for six crimes: three for money laundering, linked to property in Paris, and three for falsifying a document, involving payment for a master’s thesis.
Out of a total of 28 people accused in this case, only five will stand trial.
Prosecutor Rosário Teixeira said the MP would appeal.
The former socialist leader is accused by the public prosecutor’s office of 31 offenses, including corruption, tax evasion and money laundering, and of having irregularly received 34 million euros (227.3 million reais), mainly for the benefit of businessmen.
Using phrases like “the member’s arguments are based on speculation and fantasy” that the charges lack consistency “lack of rigor and consistency,” the judge spoke for about three hours. The intervention was broadcast live.
In two of the main charges, Socrates was held responsible for favoring the Lena construction group and interfering in negotiations for the installation of a high-speed train (TGV) system.
“None of the witnesses mentioned any involvement of José Sócrates or interfering in the process. No evidence was produced to demonstrate that they had given false testimony or that they had been forced to do so, ”the judge justified.
The judge also dismissed the charge that Socrates had been paid by a banker to influence Brazilian politicians, including former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (of whom he is a friend), in favor of Portugal Telecom in the process. purchase of Oi.
Rosa did not take over the case until 2018, after an electronic court drawing determined that he would be responsible for the conduct of the current judicial phase, in which it is decided whether there is sufficient elements for the accused to be tried.
At the time, his arrival sparked a lot of controversy. The previous judge, Carlos Alexandre, was considered harder on the respondents.
In the decision of this Friday, Ivo Rosa also determined the annulment of the acts practiced by Carlos Alexander in the case.
The cancellation was justified by the fact that the case was transmitted to Alexander manually, and not according to a random distribution, which does not respect the principle of the natural judge.
Although he was not obliged, José Sócrates decided to be present to read the decision. Speaking to reporters outside the building, he was pleased with the outcome.
“Something unique has happened here. All the big lies of the prosecution have fallen. It all fell apart, ”he said.
The investigations into José Sócrates began in July 2013.
In November 2014, he was arrested at Lisbon airport on his return from a season in Paris. The former prime minister was detained ahead of his trial for 11 months, even without a formal charge, which only arrived at the end of 2017.
Then began the so-called investigative phase of the case, during which the judge analyzes the documents produced by the prosecution and during which the defense lawyers can request the production of additional documents and the hearing. of witnesses. It is this phase which ends now, after more than two years.
In announcing his decision, Judge Ivo Rosa took the opportunity to counter criticism of slowness in the courts and underlined the complexity and dimension of the process.
“It was the time that justice needed to reach an independent decision. It may sound excessive, but it is time for the courts, ”he said.
Former socialist leader
Former leader of the PS (Socialist Party), Socrates accuses the party of having turned its back on him since his arrest. In 2018, he ended up abandoning the legend.
In an interview with Folha shortly after his parade, Sócrates said he had suffered political persecution and compared his case to that of ex-President Lula.
“The difference is that the PT has remained united with Lula. The first thing the Socialist Party did was pull out. (…) I never asked the PS to defend me, but I never thought that the Socialist Party itself was attacking me, ”he said.
Minister of the Interior under the government of José Sócrates, the current Socialist Prime Minister, António Costa, refused to comment on the question when he was questioned, this Friday morning (9), during an event in Lisbon.