Prosecutors get more time for probe into ex-Portuguese PM
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s attorney general on Friday granted investigators another extension to conclude their 2 1/2-year investigation into a former prime minister who is suspected of corruption, money laundering and tax fraud.
The attorney general’s office said prosecutors now have at least until the end of April to decide whether to formally charge Jose Socrates or drop their case against him. The deadline for a decision had been Friday, after twice being extended.
The Portuguese legal system is notoriously slow, but Socrates’ defense lawyers say the delays in the high-profile case are scandalous.
Socrates, who is 59, was Portugal’s center-left Socialist prime minister from 2005 to 2011. He is suspected of being at the center of a web of corporate interests which paid for his influence to win contracts and gain business advantages in the construction, banking and telecommunications sectors.
The attorney general’s office said in a statement that the latest postponement is justified because of the unusual complexity of the case, which requires cooperation from foreign authorities in sifting through international money transfers and the translation of official documents.
Britain responded to a request only last week, while replies are still awaited from Angola and Switzerland, the statement said. Also, new evidence has recently come to light which requires further investigation.
A team of 10 magistrates at the public prosecutor’s office and 22 tax inspectors are working on the case involving Socrates, in which 18 other people and nine companies are also suspected of wrongdoing.
Socrates was jailed following his arrest at Lisbon airport in November 2014 and held in prison for nine months before being released on bail.