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Former Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates was on trial on Friday for crimes of money laundering and falsification of documents. He was dismissed on three corruption charges brought against him by the prosecution.

More than six years later his resounding arrest, the former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose socrates was sent to trial for money laundering and falsification of documents, but was dismissed on Friday April 9 on the corruption charges against him.

The judgment handed down by the Central Criminal Investigation Tribunal is a snub to the public prosecutor who, in October 2017, accused the former socialist leader, now 63, of thirty-one crimes.

Prosecutors, who will be able to appeal this decision, suspected him of having received some 34 million euros in exchange for favors returned to three economic groups while he governed Portugal, between 2005 and 2011.

Sparking a huge political and media scandal, the prosecution attributed a total of 189 crimes to 19 people and nine companies. But, Friday, the examining magistrate Ivo Rosa retained only a dozen, and most of the defendants were cleared.

“All the great lies of the prosecution have fallen to the ground,” reacted José Socrates on leaving the court, promising to continue to fight to prove his innocence.

Corruption indices deemed “insufficient”

During his trial, the date of which has not been announced, José Socrates will have to defend himself in court for having concealed funds with the complicity of businessman Carlos Santos Silva, a childhood friend suspected of ‘act like his straw man.

In addition to Messrs Socrates and Santos Silva, former banker Ricardo Salgado will have to answer in a separate trial for three crimes of breach of trust, while ex-minister Armando Vara, already convicted in another case, will be tried for a crime money laundering.

The three crimes of passive corruption attributed to José Socrates had already been prescribed by the time the accusation was formulated, in October 2017, estimated the examining magistrate Ivo Rosa who, for more than three hours, read a summary of his judgment during a hearing broadcast live on television.

By pronouncing all the same on the merits of the case, the magistrate dismantled almost point by point the conclusions of the prosecution, criticizing on several occasions “the absence of evidence”, the “lack of rigor” or the “sterile character “of the indictment.

Regarding the bribes that José Socrates allegedly received from Ricardo Salgado, the former boss of the Espirito Santo bank, the judge concluded that the clues gathered by prosecutors were “manifestly insufficient to support his conviction for n ‘any form of passive corruption’.

Legal setbacks

José Socrates’ legal setbacks have always been an embarrassment for the current Prime Minister Antonio Costa, member of the first of his two governments.

Shortly before the hearing on Friday, Antonio Costa reiterated that he had “nothing to add” since this scandal broke out with the arrest of José Socrates, one evening in November 2014, when he himself took the reins. of the Socialist Party by calling on its activists not to confuse the interests of the party with those of its former leader.

At the time, José Socrates’ image was already tarnished by his management of the debt crisis, which in 2011 prompted him to seek international financial assistance to avoid the country’s bankruptcy and which allowed the right to gain power.

Placed in pre-trial detention for nine months, then placed under house arrest before being released six weeks later, the former Prime Minister has always proclaimed his innocence by claiming to be the victim of a “smear campaign”.

However, he admitted in interviews that he regularly borrowed money from his friend Carlos Santos Silva, a relationship he will no doubt be called upon to clarify during his trial.

With AFP

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