The defense of José Sócrates will ask for the removal of the group of judges in charge of appreciating the appeal of the Public Prosecutor’s Office that recently arrived at the Lisbon Court of Appeal, within the scope of the Operation Marquis. Only the name of Raquel Lima, the president of the panel, was drawn, with the other two judges having been chosen based on seniority in that court, reports this Friday the weekly Express. “While there is no drawing of all the judges, we will not accept any collective. We are going to ask for the refusal because this is purely and simply unacceptable”, said lawyer Pedro Delille to that newspaper.
The defense of the former prime minister considers that all names should be drawn, as indicated by a law passed by Parliament in August 2021 and which should have been regulated by the Government “within 30 days”. But that regulation never happened and that’s why the courts have considered that the law is not in force. They only raffle for that reason the rapporteur and the deputies have been appointed. On this point, there are jurists who agree with the actions of the courts, considering that without regulation the law is not in force, while others disagree.
Meanwhile, the defense of José Sócrates has presented successive appeals that have resulted in the delay of the process. So it was when he appealed to the Supreme Court to remove two judges that they would consider the appeal that their defense filed with the Lisbon Relation after being pronounced for trial by judge Ivo Rosa. The president of the collective declared herself impeded for having already taken decisions in the case and the other two magistrates had not been drawn. This appeal was distributed in the Supreme Court to a counselor judge, last year, who also declared himself impeded. Socrates appealed to the panel of judges in charge of ruling on this request for refusal by the counselor: once again, the defense asked for the removal of the judges who were part of it without having been drawn.
This new appeal was rejected by another counselor judge who was again targeted by another appeal by Socrates’ defense asking for his removal, which happened next to another magistrate. In short: with this series of appeals, the Supreme Court has not yet decided who will determine whether or not Socrates is right about the request for the removal of the judges who would consider the appeal filed against the initial decision to go to trial in the Lisbon Relation.
The regulation of the law “implies the introduction of new procedures and requires extensive modifications in the support system for the activity of the courts”, said the Ministry of Justice to the Express. According to the newspaper, the Government points out that “it has been evaluating the opportunity to revisit some solutions” and that it will proceed with the regulation “as soon as possible”.
José Sócrates was accused in the Operation Marquês process by the Public Ministry, in 2017, of 31 crimes, namely passive corruption, money laundering, falsification of documents and tax fraud, but in the instructional decision, on April 9, 2021, Judge Ivo Rosa decided to exonerate José Sócrates from 25 of the 31 crimes, pronouncing him for trial for three crimes of money laundering and three of document forgery.