This week we were not going to post but as we have been asked more than once how much does the accusation made against José Socrates by the Public Ministry will have in the Maddie case.
Straight away we will say that it will have little. But even if little it may have some.
The game has only one name and that is Theresa May.
The Prime-Minister many said a coughing fit in a speech had put an end to her career once and for all. A week has passed and it must be said she does seem to have very strong fingertips.
We do think the fact Socrates has been accused by the Public Ministry of 31 crimes (3 charges of passive corruption of holder of a political position, 16 charges of money laundering, 3 charges of falsification of documents and 3 charges of premeditated tax fraud) may have some implications for the Maddie case.
Not decisive, just politically embarrassing for the UK in case it decides for archival in the Maddie case.
Let’s first put in context the accusation against Sócrates and the other 27 accused.
Nothing has been proved against Socrates nor any of the other 18 individuals and 9 collective entities.
The Public Ministry after a long investigation has come to the conclusion that there is, according to it, solid evidence against these people that merited an accusation.
To prove that this proves nothing, we remind people that the McCanns thought that they had solid evidence against Mr Amaral that merited an accusation against him, which in the end proved not to be real.
It will now be up to the various defense teams to dismantle each accusation. If they aren’t able to do it in a convincing way the case will proceed to court. If they are able to, the case ends.
In this the Socrates process differs significantly with the McCann v Amaral one. In the latter, it was 2 private parties which could at any point in time come to an agreement and so put a stop to the process.
With these 28 accused, there is no possibility of agreement between the parties.
The process may be stopped only for technical reasons – which we are not seeing that possibility being possible as all throughout the investigation Socrates’ defense has attacked legally every which way the process and has lost all their appeals with the exception of one, which was to be able to access the majority of the investigation files.
We think Socrates’ legal team has lost all other appeals. And they were many.
Once, if that will be the case, the process goes to court, we don’t think we have to explain to our readers what happens. The McCann v Amaral case has given all the entire spectrum a legal process can undergo once into court.
A political analyst, a highly reputed lawyer himself, José Miguel Judice, has on TV reminded rightfully all that if at the end of the of it all no one is found guilty, LEGALLY, the Portuguese Justice System will come out of it as unscathed as if every single accusation is deemed as proven and a respective sentence handed out.
LEGALLY, what matters is that the Public Ministry has done its job the best way it thought it could do and has passed it to the next level.
SOCIALLY, he said, the issue will make a big difference to the system on whether there will be convictions or not.
But what we want to highlight at this point in time is that the presumption of innocence of all accused remains untouched.
However, it’s the right of every citizen to form an opinion and there are indicia about how strong the Public Ministry thinks it has made its case.
We won’t get into the ‘popular’ details of Socrates’ peculiar friendship with the other of the accused Carlos Santos Silva. It matters little to what we want to say at this moment and we will leave it for the appropriate entities within the Portuguese Justice System to analyse it.
What we would like to highlight are the following names that have been accused:
- José Socrates, former Prime-Minister;
- Ricardo Salgado, former President of the extinct Banco Espírito Santo, the biggest private bank in the country when it was dissolved 3 years ago;
- Armando Vara, former minister, former executive director of the Banco Comercial Português (a private bank) and executive director of the Caixa Geral de Depósitos, the State Bank;
- Zeinal Bava, former executive president of the PT/Telecom, once Portugal’s public communication company;
- Henrique Granadeiro, former CEO of the PT/Telecom.
From the above one can see that these people truly represented the backbone of the country, politically, financially and economically.
Just to give an example, about Ricardo Salgado – then called the ‘Owner of All This’ (Dono Disto Tudo) – in the book “The Last Banker” by Maria João Babo and Maria João Gago there’s this passage:
“José Guilherme and the president of BES know each other for tens of year. The builder consulted frequently with the banker. When he decided to expand his businesses to East Europe, Ricardo Salgado advised him against it. As an alternative, he recommended Angola. And even would have indicated with whom to contact in Luanda.
A few years later, before how the success of the investment had been, Guilherme made the point of showing the BES leader how he was grateful.
And it was because of this that he gave him a present. Of 14 million euros.”
A common problem everyone has when wanting to offer a present to someone who already has everything. It’s always the best solution to give them the money so that they can buy whatever they wish to buy with it.
We are using this example just to show what established powers against which the accusation was made on last Wednesday.
The money these people moved and had is in the multiple billions (or in Portuguese, thousands of millions) a completely ball park figure than the millions mentioned in the process. Not judging their richness, power or influence, which certainly is not our place, just putting in context the numbers involved in the accusation.
Sócrates, when Prime-Minister, was evidently powerful.
Then, he was a decisive piece on the board. But as it happens to all Prime-Ministers or equivalent all over the world without exception, once he left the job he became simply an ex-PM.
Those who tried to suck up to him when he was the PM, then simply started to trying to suck up to whoever was in that position next. It’s like that everywhere in the world and will continue to be so in the future: in politics what matters is the position one holds and not who one is.
Sócrates the ex-PM in material terms is just a little fish in comparison with some of the names which accompany him in this accusation.
The public ministry could have decided to move against José Sócrates on his own but instead decided to go against a group of very, very powerful people.
This tells us that the Public Ministry thinks the accusation it has formulated against all of them is indeed solid.
The courts will decide if it is or not.
The day before the accusation, Socrates’ assets (just like it happened with Mr Amaral) were seized.
The more optimistic have said that this will last for at least 7 to 8 years. We think it will last a while longer. A long while longer.
But where this has implications with the Maddie case is that whatever the outcome, there is no question that the Portuguese Justice System has shown that it is not scared to move against established powers and the powerful. The very powerful.
We are reminded of Jim Gambles’s words on May 9 2010 (3 days before Theresa May became Home Secretary) about the Maddie case:
“Senior child protection officer Jim Gamble has asked Scotland Yard to take a fresh look at the three-year investigation.
He blasted Portuguese cops for their handling of the hunt for Maddie - who vanished aged three from her family's Algarve holiday apartment in 2007. Now the Met Police are set to review all leads in the case, using technology and standards expected in a UK homicide or kidnap.”
We are now waiting for the “standards expected in a UK” investigation can be brought up to match the standards now shown by the Portuguese Justice System under the penalty of being internationally shamed by it.
Lastly, we will leave for the reader to read the transcript of José Socrates’ participation in Bilton’s documentary:
Richard Bilton [voice off/over]: The theory was falling apart. Goncalo Amaral was removed from the case. He blamed political interference from London. Mr Amaral’s supporters claim that he was taken off the case after an ultimatum from Gordon Brown to the Portuguese PM at a European summit.
Bilton: Did Gordon Brown take time out of the negotiations for the Lisbon Treaty to talk to you about Madeleine McCann?
José Socrates: No!! No, of course not [laughs].
Bilton: That has been suggested.
Socrates: [laughs] But it's not true. It's not true!
Bilton: The lead investigator on the McCann case, Goncalo Amaral, he has claimed – he may have been joking – that his job was the price of Britain signing the Lisbon Treaty. What do you make of that?
Socrates: Pfff… Well, I think he considers himself in a high level. But it's not [laughs] true. The Lisbon Treaty [laughs] with Goncalo Amaral, [laughs] the head of Goncalo, no, no. Well, sometimes people like to make some characters of a drama [laughs] they never lived.