For the former president of the Constitutional Court, there is no constitutional way to criminalize illicit enrichment. There is a way, yes, to criminalize the lack of transparency, but this can have a “perverse” effect on politicians who are in fact corrupt. That’s what Manuel da Costa Andrade told the PSD deputies on a panel on justice reform in the parliamentary days taking place in Portalegre, in a long speech where he left hard (and veiled) messages to the current Attorney General, who accused of acting against the Constitution.
At a time when Parliament is preparing to discuss, on the 25th, proposals from the various parties to punish the concealment of wealth of public and political office holders, with the PSD coming forward with a proposal to increase the penalties for those who omit the statement, Costa Andrade suggests, on the one hand, that to do this “It will do little to fight corruption”, and, on the other hand, may have a “perverse effect”.
“Someone can be convicted of attacking transparency, but this conviction can be valid as a letter of freedom from the corrupt, immunizing him against the possibility of being punished for corruption”, he said, even defending that a new law in this sense “may trigger the foreseeable effect of frustrating the desired objective (which is the punishment of corruption)”.
And it explains in other words: “Under the banner of the fight against corruption, these proposals, if converted into law, will serve as a bunker to which the corrupt can peacefully shelter”, said. That is, even if it is proven that the declared income was even of illicit, “criminal” origin, this data cannot then be used against the declarant to support his conviction for corruption. This is because “no one can be convicted of facts or evidence that he was obliged to bring to the attention of the court”, explained Costa Andrade.
Messages to the MAI, the Government, the PGR (and Chega, to the attention of the PSD)
In a very harsh intervention in the auditorium of the Center for Arts and Entertainment in Portalegre, the former president of the TC harshly criticized, although without saying the name, the minister of Internal Administration for the celebrations of the Champions League. “Ministers who move at the level of non-existence, even when they trade the authority of the State, they sacrifice the dignity of the Portuguese, humiliated and foreign deeds in their country, denying them privileges that they lavishly lavish on noisy and violent foreigners, just because they consume alcohol and carry a sack full of pounds.” he stated, in a clear allusion to the recent holding of the Football Champions League final in Porto.
Costa Andrade also accused the government of António Costa for the sin of not having reappointed the former Attorney General of the Republic, Joana Marques Vidal, and the former president of the Audit Court – “people known to be competent and competent”. Instead, the Government has replaced a new PGR, Lucília Gago, who, according to Costa Andrade, acts “in the by default of the Constitution and the law.” “We are now watching with complacency the declared and formalized purpose of the PGR of intending to actively intervene in the criminal process, then hiding the hand and erasing the footprints of its steps, acting as an undercover agent in the absence of the Constitution and the Law, as befits an inquisitive power”, he accused. This is due to a directive that Lucília Gago imposed on magistrates, obliging them to report to their superiors the steps they take and, in case of disagreement, they must obey orders – in cases that have public repercussion and involve “specially exposed persons ”.
The indictment came after Costa Andrade had actively defended Rio’s old proposal to have a majority of non-judges in bodies such as the Superior Council of the Public Ministry.
But Rui Rio, who was not in the room, also left a subtle message about possible (and future) approaches to a party like Chega. Without saying the name of the party, Costa Andrade totally closed the door on any conversation with anyone who wants to restore the death penalty in Portugal, saying that if the PSD did it, it would be “sell the soul to the devil”. “When you get here, you reach the insurmountable that cannot even be a reason for conversation. Only under the cover of irresponsibility and political-cultural immutability can one dream of restoring the death penalty in the country that pioneered its abolition (…) A proposal that the PSD could only negotiate if it was willing to sell its soul to the Devil”, he said, without ever referring to the party led by André Ventura.