António Costa: The judge does not appreciate corruption crimes in those detained in the case that caused the fall of the Government of Portugal | International
The aftershocks of the earthquake that shook Portuguese politics last week continue. The investigating judge Nuno Dias Costa released this Monday the five people detained last Tuesday with much milder precautionary measures than those requested by the Prosecutor's Office. The only bonds imposed have been for the lawyer Diogo Lacerda Machado, who must pay 150,000 euros within 15 days, in addition to handing over his passport, and for the company Start Campus, which is charged as a legal figure, 600,000 euros. The former chief of staff of the prime minister, Vítor Escária, was only required to hand over his passport and was prohibited from leaving the country.
In parallel, João Galamba, Minister of Infrastructure, announced his resignation on Monday afternoon, six days after the outbreak of the case that led to the resignation of the Prime Minister, António Costa, and the call for early elections for March 10 . In a statement, Galamba pointed out that his resignation is intended to provide “peace of mind” to his family, but that it does not mean any assumption of responsibility for what the prosecutors of Operation Influencer accuse him of. “As Secretary of State for Energy, I committed myself, in line with the priorities of the European Union and the Government's program, to the energy transition that I always considered, and publicly defended, a challenge that opened up unique opportunities for technological development and greater opportunities for the country. energy independence,” he points out in the note.
To the rest of defendants (official suspects), the managers of Start Campus, Alfonso Salema and Rui Oliveira Neves, and the mayor of Sines, Nuno Mascarenhas, the precautionary measures of residence control and the obligation to notify absences from their home exceeding five days were imposed. The Prosecutor's Office, which had requested preventive detention for Escária and Lacerda Machado, noted crimes of corruption, influence peddling and prevarication in the development of several energy projects that the judge has now softened.
The magistrate does not attribute corruption crimes to any of the detainees and reduces all the accusations of the Public Ministry. Costa's former chief of staff is charged with only one crime of influence peddling, as is Lacerda Machado, a consultant for Start Campus and a youth friend of the prime minister. The two representatives of Start Campus, Alfonso Salema and Rui Oliveira Neves, are accused of influence peddling and bribery, according to what was published Express.
Controversy at the central bank
Operation Influencer has also had an indirect collateral effect on the Bank of Portugal, where its governor, Mário Centeno, has been placed in the eye of the storm for having been proposed to lead the Government after Costa's resignation. It was a failed proposal due to the decision of the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, to call early elections on March 10, but the dust that it has generated among the opposition has led the ethics commission of the Bank of Portugal to meet this Monday to examine whether Centeno violated the neutrality that he must maintain as governor of the institution.
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Costa suggested to the head of state the appointment of Centeno as prime minister until 2026. The Socialist Party supported this proposal, although it added other names. Half of the President of the Republic's Council of State also supported the appointment of a prime minister instead of calling early elections, but Rebelo de Sousa finally opted for early elections.
In different public interventions, Costa assured that he had consulted Centeno to find out his availability to accept the position with the acquiescence of the President of the Republic. After Centeno declared Financial Times On Sunday that he had had “an invitation from the president and the prime minister to reflect and consider the possibility of leading the Government,” Rebelo de Sousa issued a note this Monday in which he denied that he had invited anyone to head the Executive.
Centeno's response, a few hours later, was another statement confirming the President of the Republic's version. “In the sequence of events triggered by the resignation of the Prime Minister on November 7, he invited me to reflect on the conditions that could allow him to assume the position of Prime Minister. This invitation to reflect resulted from the Prime Minister's conversations with the President of the Republic. In an exercise of citizenship, I agreed to reflect. It was not possible to resolve in this short period of time all the conditions of the exercise that was requested of me. Therefore, there was never an acceptance of the position.” “It is unequivocal that the President of the Republic did not invite me to lead the Government,” concludes the governor of the Bank of Portugal.
Several opposition parties have called for Centeno's resignation. “The Portuguese do not deserve to witness the degradation of institutions from hour to hour. Centeno only has one way: abandon his position as governor,” claimed Rui Rocha, leader of the Liberal Initiative. Although Centeno is independent, he was Minister of Finance between 2015 and 2020 and the designer of budget control policies (you count certain) that has distinguished Costa's management. Between 2018 and 2020 he was also president of the Eurogroup, the body that brings together the finance ministers of the euro zone.
Late on Tuesday, former minister Pedro Nuno Santos presented his candidacy to lead the Portuguese Socialist Party at the party's national headquarters. “The mistakes we make and the scars are part of our lives,” declared Nuno Santos, who vindicated António Costa's legacy despite the “difficult moment” that the party is experiencing. The former minister pointed out that his big issues will be decent wages, access to housing and support for depopulated territory.
The candidacy of Pedro Nuno Santos is presented two days after that of the Minister of the Interior, José Luís Carneiro, who this Saturday did so in Coimbra in a six-minute speech where he presented himself as a politician “with his feet on the ground” and “availability for dialogue”. In an interview with the TVI network, Carneiro, who represents the most centrist wing of socialism, admitted to being willing to allow a PSD (center-right) government if he wins the elections without an absolute majority. “It won't be because of me that Chega [el partido de ultraderecha] reach power in this country,” he stated.
The candidacy of Pedro Nuno Santos is presented two days after that of the Minister of the Interior, José Luís Carneiro, who this Saturday did so in Coimbra in a six-minute speech where he presented himself as a politician “with his feet on the ground” and “availability for dialogue”. In an interview with the TVI network, Carneiro, who represents the most centrist wing of socialism, admitted to being willing to allow a PSD (center-right) government if he wins the elections without an absolute majority. “It won't be because of me that Chega [el partido de ultraderecha] reach power in this country," he said in a six-minute speech where he presented himself as a politician "with his feet on the ground" and "available for dialogue." In an interview with the TVI network, Carneiro, who represents the most centrist wing of socialism, admitted to being willing to allow a PSD (center-right) government if he wins the elections without an absolute majority. “It won't be because of me that Chega [el partido de ultraderecha] reach power in this country,” he stated.
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