Wednesday

4th May 2016

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.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary to hold migrant quota referendum by October
  2. France rejects TTIP in its current form, says Hollande
  3. New commander takes charge of US forces in Europe
  4. Spain issues arrest warrants for Russian officials
  5. Pro-Putin bikers refused entry by Poland, Lithuania
  6. Nato gives details of new Baltic force
  7. German state gets historic Green-CDU coalition
  8. Chinese police to patrol Italian streets

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Music CouncilRegister Now for the 6th European Forum on Music in Wroclaw, European Capital of Culture 2016
  2. Belgrade Security ForumJoin Our Team for the 6th Belgrade Security Forum. Apply Now! Deadline May 20
  3. European Roundtable of IndustrialistsCompanies Make Progress on Number of Women in Leadership Roles
  4. Counter BalanceParliament Gets Tough on Control EU Bank's Funds
  5. ICRCSyria: Aleppo on the Brink of Humanitarian Disaster
  6. CESIWorld Day For Health and Safety at Work: Public Sector Workers in The Focus
  7. EFABasque Peace Process-Arnaldo Otegi Visits the European Parliament
  8. EscardioChina Pays Price of Western Lifestyle With Soaring Childhood Obesity
  9. Centre Maurits CoppetiersThe Existence of a State is a Question of Fact, Not a Question of Law
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at The Event: Prospects For EU Enlargement After 2019
  11. ICRCSyria: Aid for Over 120,000 People Arrives in Besieged Town Near Homs
  12. Counter BalanceHighway to Hell: European Money Fuelling Controversial Infrastructure Projects