Thursday, April 15, 2021

Decision on Operation Marquis will have repercussions on justice and politics

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António Joaquim Piçarra, the new president of the Supreme Court of Justice

The president of the Supreme Court of Justice considers that the instructional decision of Operation Marquis will have repercussions on justice and politics and recognizes that the excessive time for investigating and investigating criminal megaprocesses is incomprehensible.

In the case of Operation Marquis, whose main defendant is former Prime Minister José Sócrates, who on Friday will know whether or not he is going to trial, “the decision [instrutória] whatever it is, it is a test of the resilience of justice and also of politics and it will necessarily have an influence ”, he affirmed António Joaquim Piçarra, in an interview with the Lusa agency, stressing that the dragging of the process over many years is unsustainable.

The advising judge disagrees with the way in which the investigation phase is carried out and wants to propose restrictions, this step being optional only for a judge to evaluate the archiving of an investigation, after a complaint and, in cases where there is an accusation, this would be limited to the evaluation. of the evidence produced in the investigation to consider whether there was a criminal matter to bring the case to trial.

“The instruction should only be the judicial evidence filing or going to trial. The investigating judge is neither a judge nor an investigator, ”he said.

For the president of the Supreme Court, whose term ends on May 18, the excessive time that some cases take until the conclusion “is inexplicable and unsustainable”.

As for the management of megaprocesses, the counselor agrees with the Government’s proposal on the possibility of separating the cases, with the amendment of article 30 of the Criminal Procedure Code, but recognizes that these major cases, almost all of which are economic and financial crime, need more research time given its complexity.

However, he adds, “A trial that takes a year is inexplicable however complex it may be ”.

António Joaquim Piçarra will abandon the post of president of the STJ on May 18, when he turns 70 and become a retired man.

As a review of the nearly three years at the head of the STJ and inherent to the CSM, he admitted that he feels some frustration for not getting citizens to have access to judicial decisions in a more noticeable language and for the slowness of some lawsuits.

“I would like to leave an image of full transparency and openness to society both in the communication of the Council and in the communication of the Supreme Court with civil society and the media, but what I would like, and in this respect I feel more frustration, is that there is still no democratization of language in judicial decisions ” , he said.

The feeling of frustration is also associated with the slowness of the proceedings: “It never crossed my mind that at the end of the mandate, after three years, I was still now aware of the decisions of some processes. I am in fact very frustrated with that because for me they should already be judged ”.

On the hypothesis that the top position of the STJ will be occupied by a woman, after, for the first time, a judge ascends to the vice-presidency of the Supreme, the counselor said “Not having any candy” about it, but didn’t want to talk about the succession because an election campaign is underway.

“I think it is time for at least one woman to occupy the vice-presidency of the Council and there I am perfectly at ease to speak because there are no candidacies yet. When it comes to the Supreme Court, I want to remain equidistant from all the candidates ”, he stressed.

Regarding the posture he will assume when he leaves the judiciary, António Piçarra stated that he will be an “attentive and concerned spectator”, but that he does not intend to have a public intervention.

“I understand that the judges should not be subject to silence, much less those who hold or have held positions of responsibility, but they must have some modesty in their public intervention. The media space is not for the judges, they have their own space, which is the court. Intervention in the public space should be used sparingly ”, he considered.

With the purpose of not opening the judicial year ceremony – initially scheduled for January 27, but canceled due to the covid-19 pandemic -, the judge thinks that it will not be held, but announced that there will be a public ceremony, with personalities of the judiciary and of politics, to inaugurate the renovated premises of the Supreme Court, in Terreiro do Paço, in Lisbon.

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