Judge Nuno Dias on Monday ordered the release of all those involved in the corruption case that has led to the resignation of Portugal’s Prime Minister, António Costa. Five of them were detained. The Prosecutor’s Office will appeal the decision.
In this way, Costa’s chief of staff, Vítor Escaria, and the consultant Diogo Lacerda Machado, a friend of the resigning prime minister, for whom the Prosecutor’s Office had requested preventive detention, are released.
Despite ordering their release, the magistrate has prohibited both of them from leaving the country, who have to hand over their passports within 24 hours, and has ordered Lacerda Machado to pay 150,000 euros in bail.
For the rest of the detainees, the mayor of the town of Sines, Nuno Mascarenhas, and the two administrators of the Start Campus company, Rui de Oliveira Neves and Alfonso Salema, the judge established that they are not linked to the corruption case, but to trafficking. of influences.
Consequently, he only ordered that they continue in the regime called “term of identity and residence”, which consists of informing them of the place where they live, from which they cannot be absent for more than five days without notifying the authorities, and to appear when necessary. required.
In parallel, the magistrate has requested the payment of a bond of 600,000 euros by the company Start Campus.
The five were arrested last Tuesday as part of an operation announced that day by the Portuguese Prosecutor’s Office in which 42 places were searched and in which Costa has been implicated.
In total, including the five released, there are nine “arguidos” (formal suspects, figure prior to accusation) in this case, among whom are the Portuguese Minister of Infrastructure, João Galamba, the president of the Portuguese Environment Agency, Nuno Lacasta and the lawyer and former spokesperson for the Socialist Party João Tiago Silveira, as well as the company Start Campus. Precisely, this Monday Galamba presented his resignation to Costa.
The Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation focuses on lithium exploitation concessions in the Romano and Barroso mines (north), a project for the construction of a data center developed by Start Campus, and another for an energy production plant with hydrogen, both in Sines.
The extent of Costa’s alleged involvement is still unclear, although the Portuguese Prosecutor’s Office indicated that several suspects have spoken of their alleged involvement in the case to “unblock procedures.”
After learning of the investigation, Costa resigned, but assured that he had not committed any illegal act. The Prosecutor’s Office has recognized an error in the transcription of one of the wiretaps in which the Minister of Economy, António Costa Silva, was mentioned, but only António Costa was transcribed, as reported by one of the defense lawyers.