NOTÍCIAS NACIONAIS, QUINTA-FEIRA 29/1 (Destaque):
DAS AGÊNCIAS INTERNACIONAIS (o começo da história):
Portuguese PM denies taking bribes from British firm
Saturday, January 24 08:07 pmPortuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates on Saturday denied allegations he accepted bribes from a British building firm when he was environment minister. Skip related content
Related photos / videos Enlarge photo “I want to say to all those who think they will beat me in this manner that they are wrong: I will fight to defend my honour and my integrity,” the prime minister told a press conference in Porto.
An article published Saturday in the weekly magazine Sol linked Socrates to the “Freeport scandal”, a British investigation into bribes allegedly accepted for the construction of an outlet shopping centre near Lisbon.
The names of the prime minister and members of his family turned up in the British probe for “bribes paid in Portugal in exchange for Freeport project agreement”, Sol reported.
In 2002, Socrates — then the environment minister — gave the green light to the British group to build the 75,000 square-metre (800,000 square-foot) complex in Alcochete. Freeport has since been bought by the US group Carlyle.
An investigation was opened into the affair in 2004 — following an anonymous tip — and was relaunched by the public prosecutor in 2005, shortly before Socrates’ Socialist Party won legislative elections.
During his press conference, the prime minister highlighted the timing of the current scandal, which “comes now, once again right in the middle of an election year”.
The public prosecutor has for the past four years repeatedly denied that there was “any evidence that members of the current or former government were involved in this affair”, said the prime minister.
He acknowledged having met in 2001 with Freeport official Charles Smith to inform him of the government’s environmental requirements after his ministry twice blocked the building project.
The final go-ahead “conformed to all the laws applied at the time”, added Socrates, who threw back “all calumnious insinuations” that “are aimed at hitting me personally and to politically weaken me”.