This Monday, Lisbon’s Central Criminal Court opened the door for Ricardo Salgado, former president of Branco Espírito Santo (BES), to start being tried only in September for allegedly embezzling 10.7 million euros Espírito Santo Group (GES), in 2011, for your personal sphere.
The trial was scheduled to start on Monday, but was eventually postponed to June 14, 2021, after the defendant’s defense announced that it will only deliver its defense to the prosecution, with around 150 pages, on Wednesday. Tuesday, June 9th. Despite this, it is not certain that the trial will start even next week.
“Whether 150 pages or ten, the contest will be analyzed. If by chance [dia 14 de junho] we are not able to [de iniciar], we are not starting”, defended, this Monday, the president of the collective of judges that will try Salgado, in Lisbon. Francisco Henriques thus responded to the allegation of the lawyer of the ex-banker, Francisco Proença de Carvalho, that, when asking for the adjournment of the trial, he just wanted to give the court and the Public Ministry time to analyze the challenge.
The judge added that, in June, the collective that integrates and that has several trials in hand, has, for agenda reasons, availability to judge Salgado only on June 14 and 15. Then, only in September, after the legal vacation, which runs from July 15th to August 31st.
The former president of BES is liable for three crimes of breach of trust, each punishable with a penalty of one to eight years in prison. The process was separated, two months ago, from Operation Marquis, whose protagonist is former prime minister José Sócrates. The decision was taken by Judge Ivo Rosa, of the Central Criminal Investigation Court, on April 9, 2021, after having cleared Salgado, at the end of the investigation, of 18 of the 21 economic and financial crimes he was accused of. Two other defendants were also sent to trial alone.
Dissatisfied with the separation of processes, the former banker’s defense filed an appeal with the Lisbon Court of Appeal, but this did not prevent the scheduling of the start of the trial.
“It’s not normal to have this kind of separation, but anyway. […] Good or bad, the process came apart: it had to obey the law. I don’t see any grounds for not passing judgment”, stressed Francisco Henriques.
The magistrate also recalled that it is the collective practice that integrates to allow, when trials have “more than two or three” sessions, that the defendants are not present, but he pointed out that, if he wants to make statements, Salgado will have to appear in court
The former president of BES did not travel, this Monday, to the Justice Campus in Lisbon, where the trial will take place. Salgado is 76 years old and can therefore be exempted, under the law in force, from being present at the proceedings, due to the covid-19 pandemic, explained Francisco Proença de Carvalho on arrival in court.