Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Eurojust chief embroiled in Portuguese corruption scandal

  • The allegations against Jose da Mota puts Eurojust in a bad light (Photo: European Commission)

The EU's judicial co-operation body, Eurojust, on Wednesday tried to distance itself from a scandal involving its head, Jose da Mota, who allegedly put pressure on prosecutors in order to stop a corruption probe involving Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates.

"For the time being, Eurojust does not want to comment on this case. It is a national case in Portugal and Eurojust is not involved in this case," Johannes Thuy, a spokesman for the Hague-based EU body told this website.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Portugal's general prosecutor on Tuesday launched a disciplinary procedure against Mr Mota following an internal investigation "of alleged pressures" on magistrates.

The accusations were made in connection with a case pointing at Mr Socrates at a time when he was minister of enviroment and allowed the construction of an outlet shopping mall on protected land allegedly in exchange for kickbacks.

Two magistrates dealing with the so-called Freeport affair last month accused Mr Mota of having tried to persuade them to side-line the investigation at the request of the premier and the minister of justice.

The premier and Mr Mota's relationship goes back to the late nineties, when they worked in the same government as state secretaries for environment and justice respectively. In 2002, when the new EU body was formed, Mr Mota was transferred to Hague as Portugal's representative to Eurojust.

He was elected head of the judicial co-operation body in 2007, at a time when the so-called Freeport case had already started.

As head of Eurojust, Mr Mota not only represents the EU body in public events, but also chairs the internal meetings, such as the one last year when Portuguese prosecutors asked their British counterparts to hand them over the evidence collected in the Freeport case.

If formally indicted after the disciplinary procedure which might last around 10 days, Mr Mota would most probably be replaced by someone else as Portugal's representative to Eurojust.

"These allegations are incredibly serious and, if proved, call into question the political independence and credibility of Eurojust," Stephen Booth from Open Europe, a London-based eurosceptic think-tank told this website.

Socrates to survive in elections

The Socialist Prime Minister, who currently holds an absolute majority in the Parliament, is set to be re-elected in September, despite some losses in the opinion polls due to the Freeport affair, pundits say.

"Mr Socrates is starting to fall in the polls and he will not manage an absolute majority like in 2005, but he will still win," Tiago Luz Pedro, political editor at Publico, one of Portugal's main newspapers, told EUObserver.

British fraud investigators pointed at Prime Minister due to unexplained missing sums in the company's books, related to the period Freeport was bidding for a construction licence in Portugal in 2002, when Mr Socrates was minister of enviroment.

The Socialist politician has constantly denied these accusations and claimed the scandal was politically motivated.

Eurojust chief quits over power abuse scandal

The head of EU's anti-crime agency Eurojust resigned on Wednesday after he was suspended for 30 days for having put pressure on Portuguese prosecutors in order to stop a corruption probe involving Prime Minister Jose Socrates.

Analysis

More hype than substance in EU counter-terror plans

The 22 March anniversary of the Brussels bombing will trigger a lot of soul searching. But EU counter-terrorism strategies over the past 10 years have been crisis-driven with little follow through or oversight.

LuxLeaks whistleblowers sentenced again

PwC employees Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet, who revealed how multinational companies dodged taxes through deals in Luxembourg, were given reduced sentences.

EU lawmakers tighten firearm rules

The EU parliament backed a provisional deal with member states to tighten EU gun laws. EU states now have to formally adopt their position before the new legislation is enacted.

EU home to over 5,000 criminal groups

Europol says the figure is more a reflection of an improved intelligence picture rather than an absolute increase in the number of gangs.

News in Brief

  1. British police make first arrests in London terror probe
  2. EU commission has received Facebook reply on WhatsApp
  3. Rome expects thousands of protesters at summit
  4. Dijsselbloem says his comments had 'Dutch directness'
  5. Ukraine spy agency bars Russian Eurovision singer
  6. Turkish president Erdogan threatens Europeans
  7. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea
  8. UK parliament in lockdown after reported attack

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EJCExpresses Concern That Extremists Still Have the Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  3. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  4. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  5. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  7. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  8. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  9. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  11. Malta EU 2017Consumer Protection Laws to Be Strengthened by EU-Wide Cooperation
  12. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted

Latest News

  1. Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU
  2. Poland unlikely to face EU discipline on rule of law
  3. Rutte courted Wilders' voters, now he must deliver
  4. Barnier to UK: trade talks will come after settling accounts
  5. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times
  6. Terror attack shuts down UK parliament
  7. Catalonia and Scotland at core of Europe's geopolitical conundrum
  8. La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale