José Sócrates’ lawyers at last can review the list of accusations levelled against their client as the game of legal cat and mouse ended after a three week battle to have the charges made available.
The former prime minister is central to Operation Marquês in which he soon will be formally accused of qualified tax fraud, money laundering and accepting bribes.
The Lisbon Court finally has rejected a request from the Public Ministry which claimed an earlier ruling that the prosecution case should be made available, was flawed and that the details should remain secret.
"For 22 days the defence team working for José Sócrates remained without access to the files of the investigation," said a spokesman for the former prime minister, adding that his lawyers João Araújo and Pedro Delille already are studying the prosecution files.
On 24 September, the Lisbon Court decided that the continuation of the ‘secrecy of justice’ in the operation was not justifiable and that José Socrates’ defence team should have access to all records of the investigation.
On 5 October, the prosecution claimed in the Court of Appeal of Lisbon that this judgement was not valid, alleging violation of the constitutional principle of secrecy. The documents have remained under lock and key until this latest ruling which releases them.
José Socrates was arrested on November 21, 2014 at Lisbon airport, was indicted and sent to Évora prison pending formal charges.
His detention ended when enforcement measures were changed to 'house arrest with police surveillance' on September 5th. Sócrates awaits formal charges and trial in a case which the nation expects will lift the lid on years of political corruption and bribery.
The documents will be handed over to the smooth one's lawyers on Mionday morning but how long will it be until details are drip fed to the press?
" Portuguese law never intended that these people were ever to be seriously under 'suspicion' so it was never designed to prosecute a Socrates or a Salgado. Just us. Watch and learn"... How right! Wanna bet? Socrates will be cleared up of all charges and get a juicy compensation for all bad things they did and told him - with Salgado it won't be a very different end of the story too...
It doesn't take a legal background - just an experience of wrongly being accused of Defamation - to realise that all Portuguese penal law is 'devised' to protect the interests of heavyweights. Everything.
As an arguido in Portugal, the accused and being prosecuted; if innocent, you are theoretically intended to help the prosecution. To straighten out who said or did what to help the judge decide who is 'guilty'. If you are innocent that, in theory, is a great idea. But it hits a wall.
You are not actually allowed to know what is going on in the background - the investigation - if anything. And theoretically you can make suggestions - telling the public prosecutor "Ask so and so what, if anything, happened". But you have no idea if anyone is listening. Or acting on your suggestions.
Being told its a Violation of the Constitutional principle of Secrecy
This is to protect the special Portuguese. It allows some leeway for them to wriggle. It is not for low life's or foreigners. But it is being tested here by ... a special Portuguese. Portuguese law never intended that these people were ever to be seriously under 'suspicion' so it was never designed to prosecute a Socrates or a Salgardo. Just us. Watch and learn.