‘No one does wrong willingly or knowingly’ – Socrates, Greek philosopher
On November 21st at 10 PM, 2014 José Sócrates – ex-prime minister and former leader of the Socialist Party – was arrested at Lisbon’s airport, after flying home from Paris, under suspicion of money laundering, corruption, forgery and fiscal fraud.
He was held in preventive custody for 11 months but had to be released due to lack of evidence.
Almost 3 years later the Public Prosecutor’s Office officially closed down the final investigation – called Operation Marqués, named after the former residence of the prime minister at the Marqués de Pombal square in Lisbon – and published the results last week in a more than 4000 page’s thick report.
Except for Sócrates – prime minister between 2005 and 2011 – 9 companies and 19 individuals – amongst them important bankers, directors and public administrators – were together charged with 188 crimes.
According to the accusation, Sócrates received between 2006 and 2009 more than 24 million euros in bribes from the private enterprise Lena, the luxury tourist company Vale do Lobos and the biggest bank at that time, Banco Espírito Santo. The money is supposed to be hidden in bank accounts in Switzerland.
Carlos Santos Silva, businessman and personal friend of Sócrates, is said to be the key person in the process, acting as the mediator between the former prime minister and the involved companies.
It’s for the first time in the history of Portugal, that a former prime minister is accused of corruption during the execution of his function as head of state. But that’s not all. Operation Marqués also incriminates ex-CEO’s from big government agencies like Portugal Telecom and the state-owned bank Caixa Geral dos Depositos.
Socrates’ lawyers declared the accusations “totally unfounded and complete nonsense.” The defense is – by law – given 50 days to react to the accusations but already has requested an extension of one year, to be able to analyze the document in detail.
The ex-prime minister himself calls the report “a fantasy, a fable without any facts or evidence” and elucidates “that the purpose of the state has never been to investigate a crime, but to harass a target.”
This week his third book ‘The evil we deplore’ was published.’
Socrates ( 469-399 BC) was a Greek philosopher and considered the father of western philosophy. He showed how argument, debate, and discussion could help men to understand difficult issues. In 399 BC he was put on trial for ‘refusing to recognize the gods of the state’, found guilty and forced to commit suicide by taking poison.
BOM FIM DE SEMANA (photo Público)