Azeredo Lopes, former chief of staff to the mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, is one of two dozen witnesses listed by the Public Ministry (MP) in the Selminho process, in which the mayor is accused of malfeasance.
The former Minister of Defense, who before joining the Government was Rui Moreira’s chief of staff after taking office as Mayor of Porto (CMP), on October 23, 2013, is one of the 20 names on the list. list of witnesses to the prosecution of the MP.
In December, the MP accused the independent Rui Moreira of malfeasance, in an apparent contest with a crime of abuse of power, incurring the loss of his mandate, for allegedly favoring his family’s real estate company (Selminho), already during his mandate, in detriment of the autarchy, in a judicial conflict, which opposed, for several years, the municipality to the real estate company, which intended to build a land on the escarpment of Arrábida.
In the Request for the Opening of Investigations (RAI), an optional phase that aims to decide by an investigating judge whether the process continues and in what manner for trial, Rui Moreira’s defense denies that its constituent has committed any crime or benefited the company’s real estate. family, defending the nullity of the accusation, considering it “manifestly unfounded”.
In RAI, consulted by the Lusa agency in the Criminal Instruction Court (TIC) of Porto, Rui Moreira’s defense admits that the mayor had a “less warned or inattentive” performance, when he issued the forensic power of attorney to lawyer Pedro Neves de Sousa to represent the municipality in the judicial litigation, which ran under the terms of the Administrative and Tax Court (TAF) of Porto, in which, according to the MP, Selminho, “company of the mayor’s family and himself, demanded the CMP”.
“In fact, it appears that there was a less informed or inattentive intervention by the participant [Rui Moreira], for which the interference of his then chief of staff would have been decisive [Azeredo Lopes]”, says RAI, with more than 100 pages.
At the meeting of the municipal executive on December 21, 2020, Moreira stated that the only act he practiced, as mayor, “was to grant a power of attorney to lawyers he did not know” and with whom he never spoke, “much less on the subject , so that they could represent the chamber in a due diligence of the lawsuit filed against “the municipality.
The mayor justified the issuance of the forensic power of attorney, just over a month after taking office, because his chief of staff, Azeredo Lopes, assured him that there was no problem in doing so, as was his obligation.
“The lawyers concerned have been sponsoring the chamber in this case for a long time, by choice of my predecessor [Rui Rio], and I didn’t think of replacing them “, declared Rui Moreira, before the municipal executive.
In RAI, the defendant’s defense maintains that the case file “does not reveal any evidence that it can be withdrawn” that its constituent “has ever acted with the intention of harming the municipality or benefiting Selminho”.
According to the defense, “the granting of a power of attorney to represent the municipality in a procedural step”, without further ado, “does not appear to be able to jeopardize the impartial way in which the municipality has positioned itself in the referred litigation”.
The defense of Rui Moreira required the inquiry of lawyer Pedro Neves de Sousa as “the only instructive step,” for having direct knowledge of the relevant facts “, as he was the municipality’s representative in the dispute between Selminho and the municipality, in the TAF of Porto.
The inquiry was dismissed by the ICT of Porto, recalling that, already in the investigation phase, Pedro Neves de Sousa, claimed professional secrecy, which led the MP to request its withdrawal, which was not accepted by the Regional Council of the Bar Association. The “legitimacy of the excuse” was confirmed by a judgment of the Porto Court of Appeal, issued on July 1, 2020.
In view of the rejection, the defense of the mayor of Porto presented a complaint, which is awaiting decision.
In the case file is an order from the Regional Attorney General of Porto determining that the prosecutors Nuno Serdoura and Ana Margarida dos Santos, holders of the investigation and responsible for the prosecution, should be the representatives of the Public Prosecutor in the investigation phase.
Maria Almeida Ferreira justifies the decision for these attorneys to have “a deep knowledge” of the process “of special factual and evidential complexity and of great social repercussion”.
The instructional phase will take place at the ICT of Porto, in charge of Judge Maria Antónia Ribeiro.