In a tense final few days before Operation Marquês is concluded and formal charges issues to some or all of the 25 suspects, lawyers representing José Sócrates have claimed that the deadline passed on the 13th of March and that they fully expect the inquiry to be dropped.
Sócrates's defense lawyers held a press conference on Tueday evening to argue that the Operation Marquês deadline set by the Attorney General's Office, ended on Monday - a day on which their client had been grilled for six hours at the Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action in Lisbon.
Lawyers João Araújo and Pedro Delille argued that the 180-day deadline set on September 14, 2016 came to an end on March 13, saying that they required to be notified that the investigation had been dropped, adding that any action taken by prosecutors after the 13th are indisputably illegal.
On Monday night, José Sócrates stated that he would "not be surprised" if the Public Ministry once again postponed the closing date for the investigation, considering it "absolutely scandalous" that the Prosecutor's Office might "fail to respect the procedural deadlines."
"I was astonished because the prosecution was not able to present anything but a rumour here, a rumour there, as if that could serve as a basis for suspicion," criticised the former prime minister.
José Sócrates is charged with corruption, qualified tax fraud and money laundering. Monday's interrogation focused on the latest evidence from the Portugal Telecom line of inquiry and the alleged transfer of millions of euros from the Espírito Santo Group to the businessman Carlos Santos Silva, Sócrates’ long-term friend.
Carlos Santos Silva was interrogated last Friday, with the Attorney General's Office stating that "there are still interrogations pending for other defendants over the course of this week."
Operation Marquês has 25 defendants - 19 people and six companies, four of the companies belonging to the Lena Group (Lena SGPS, XMI - Management & Investments SA, RENTLEI - Automóveis e Turismo SA, LENA - Engenharia e Construções SGPS, LENA - Engenharia e Construções SA).
Among the defendants are Armando Vara, a former Caixa Geral de Depósitos administrator and former socialist minister, businessman Carlos Santos Silva a friend of the former prime minister, Joaquim Barroca the head of the Lena group, João Perna the former driver of José Sócrates, Paulo Lalanda de Castro the Octapharma Group former boss, Henrique Granadeiro and Zeinal Bava fomer directors of Portugal Telecom, Ricardo Salgado, Vale de Lobo boss Rui Horta e Costa, the lawyer Gonçalo Trindade Ferreira, the businessmen Diogo Gaspar Ferreira and Rui Mano de Ferro and the Portuguese-Angolan businessman Hélder Bataglia.
Ten points for anyone that can match the names to the faces...