quarta-feira, 4 de março de 2015

President Jardim condemned for defaming Gil Canha

The still-president Jardim has at last been condemned to pay 4000 Euros compensation for defamation, though he will surely appeal the decision.

The facts date back to the 2009 election campaign, where a group of Social Democrat youths held a pro-regime demonstration while the New Democracy candidates were protesting against the violation of the election laws.

Several of Jardim's party youth wing held up banners - a smear campaign against the new democracy candidates. One of them accused Canha of being a criminal wanted by the Venezuelan justice system. The accusation was totally gratuitous and the youths holding the banner were sued, whereupon, in court, they pointed the finger at Jardim, saying they had been acting on his orders.

They were condemned and a new case was brought against Jardim. Jardim is clearly seen on all the newsreels telling the police to allow the youths to unfurl the banner, because he was the one who gave orders.

sexta-feira, 23 de janeiro de 2015

Opposition Coalition Fiasco

After the success of the coalition for change in the municipal elections, momentum was gathering for an enlarged coalition to topple the PSD at the forthcoming elections. This looks increasingly unlikely.

Following the purge at the City Hall, last year, when the Mayor ditched three of his elected councillors, with the backing of the Socialist party, the oposition momentum disappeared. The New Democracy Party left the coalition and the Bloco Esquerda has rejected joining a new coalition for the regional elections. The Socialist Party is now negotiating a much reduced coalition with the Labour Party (PTP), Earth Party (MPT) and Party for the Animals and Nature (PAN).

The Christian Democrats CDS had mooted joining a coalition with the Socialists if the candidate for the Presidency of the Regional Government would be someone other than Vitor Freitas, the current Socialist Leader. Vitor has no curriculum and even less charisma and is not taken by the electorate as a serious candidate for heading a government. The New Democracy Party would also consider joining a coalition, if the candidate was someone else.

Last week, the Funchal constituency of the Socialist Party, lead by Iglesias, called for Vitor to reconsider his candidature and open the possibility for a broader coalition, namely with the CDS.
There were moves also to evict the Labour Party of José Manuel Coelho, from a such a coalition between the CDS and the Socialists. Judging by the comments on the Diário news article, Igleasias' plea was also a manouver to put forward Cafofo, the new Mayor of Funchal as a coalition candidate (Iglesias is his right hand man).

 However, the Socialist Party has other much more credible, experienced and appealing possible candidates. It looks unlikely that any of these will step forward, however, and that a split opposition will hand a new overall majority to Albuquerque's PSD.

quinta-feira, 15 de janeiro de 2015

Jardim steps down, 2014 in review

Jardim resigned as head of the Regional Government on the 12th of January, following internal elections won by the former mayor of Funchal, Miguel Albuquerque. The latter beat Jardim's appointed successor, Miguel António Correia, in the second round of elections.

2014 was rather depressing. Not only was the Cuba Livre hidden debt investigation shelved by the prosecutor, despite having found that the debt was deliberately hidden. Nobody was held accountable, which is typical of the Public Prosecution in Portugal.

The eight PND activists accused in the protest held in the Jornal da Madeira were convicted. The judge, Joanna Dias, known to be pro-regime even noted that it was not proved that the Jornal is not impartial - when even the candidates to the leadership of the PSD were publicly protesting its being an instrument of Jardim. The judgement is being appealled.

In the light of the judgement, the PND put in a request that the cases brought against the Jornal for election violations be speeded up. Two weeks later they were all shelved with absolutely absurd premises. Such as that the newspaper was not responsible for opinion pieces, ignoring the fact that all the opinion peices were written by Jardim's party members and there was no pluralism of opinion whatsoever. In one case the prosecutor even ignored completely two decisions of the Constitutional Court taken before the elections, which the Jornal chose to ignore. We appealed both.In the first case, the judge maintained the Public Prosecutor's view; in the second, the one with the two decisions of the Constitutional Court, the judge has remained silent...

Gil Canha and I were also convicted in the lower court in two libel cases brought against the Garajau over the Ports case.  Last year, however, the Supreme Court acquitted the Sol newspaper, against which the Ports had brought an action against an article which covered most of the same material. As our lawyer pointed out, the jurisprudence is shifting from the Courts protecting the powerful, to protecting the right to criticise, even if the criticisms are unpleasant.

In Court the accusation lawyer made much of his friendship with Cristina Pedra and that she had been appointed advisor to the Court, such was her fantastic reputation. He centered his attack on the fact we were convinced that criminal accusations would result of the investigation, which turned out not to be the case. Our lawyer then proceeded through all the scams the company had made, that despite not being criminal, due to the nature of the company, meant that perhaps Cristina Pedra may not be held up to be the saint she was being portrayed as being, but rather as an ordinary mortal. He noted the political controversy over the ports monopoly, which still exists to this day, and the political role of the Government in maintaining the system, and the sale of its quota of the company soon after the facts which were subject of the investigation became public.

sexta-feira, 31 de outubro de 2014

Madeira Hidden Debt Investigation Concluded

The "Cuba Livre" investigation into the Madeira hidden debt has been concluded. The Public Prosecutor's Office found that there had been falsification of documents and that the debt had indeed been hidden. However, they conclude that since the State suffered no negative consequences there was no reason to proceed and so the case is not going to Court.

This typical of the impunity nurtured by the Portuguese Justice system.

Not only was the State negatively affected by the hidden debt, the whole of the island's economy has been torpedoed and the taxpayers are landed with the bill.

The Public Prosecution's decision came mere weeks after the Banco Espirito Santo scandal hit the front pages of the world's newspapers. The timing meant that the Madeira hidden debt investigation got minimal press coverage.

The New Democracy Party, which was party to the denounciations, will appeal the decision,

terça-feira, 8 de julho de 2014

Purge at City Hall

The New Democracy Party has quit the Coalition for Change in the City of Funchal.

The newly elected Mayor, Paulo Cafofo, took a unilateral decision to remove the responsibilities of members of his executive, without consulting, never mind obtaining the consent of the coalition parties.

Three out of the five members of the executive resigned: Filipa Jardim Fernandes, vice deputy Mayor responsible for finances; Gil Canha, responsible for urban planning and markets; and Edgar Silva responsible for social services.

The decision to strip Canha of the responsibilities of markets and inspections was never justified, apart from a wet statement that the Mayor wanted a city that 'facilitated'.

Cafofo's gamble is seen on the one hand to have been an 'offering' to the Sousa group and to vested interests of groups linked to Jardim's party, on the hand a move to consolidate the power of the Socialist Party in the City Hall.

The Chair of the City Assembly, Luisa Clode, also resigned her post at the same time. The Coalition's position in the Assembly is now even more precarious, with the loss of the three members elected by the New Democracy Party, but curiously the PSD did not present an alternative list for the electing the new chair.

The new chair, Rodrigo Trancoso of the Left Block, was duly elected without difficulty

Jornal Trial Over

Selfie of the accused with lawyer on the steps of the Court

The trial of the protest against the Jornal's continued violation of the election laws finished last week. The judgement is due on the 24th.

None of the cases brought against the Jornal by the National Comission of Elections has yet reached Court.

The last few months have been taken up with a marathon of court trials brought by the Jornal and the Ports, which are not quite finished. They resume in September

sexta-feira, 4 de abril de 2014

Former administrator of Municipal Company convicted to three years imprisonment

Paulo Rosa Gomes, former Funchal City company Frente Mar has been convicted for the wonderfully euphemistically termed crime of 'economic participation in a business', which to all intents and purposes seems to mean embezzlement. His wife and a salesman were also convicted.

In practice, they were found to have pocketed Money for the rental of sun beds and sunshades, which is part of the business of the bathing resorts owned by the city. They were also condemned to pay Frente Mar a sum total of 68.000 Euros in damages, corresponding to the amount that they allegedly pocketed.

Rosa Gomes left Frente Mar in 2007 and remained advisor to the former Mayor, Miguel Albuquerque, until the end of his term in office, last year.

The jude said that the justice system could not be seen to be soft on powerful people, especially where white colar crime is concerned. Rosa Gomes is expected to appeal the sentence.

Source: DN