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Portugal`s ex-PM brands corruption probe `absurd`

Portugal`s former prime minister Jose Socrates, who has been detained on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering, angrily dismissed the allegations against him as absurd, in a letter published Thursday.



Lisbon: Portugal`s former prime minister Jose Socrates, who has been detained on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering, angrily dismissed the allegations against him as absurd, in a letter published Thursday.

The emblematic Socialist figure has been in custody since his arrest at Lisbon airport on Friday, the biggest political scandal to rock the EU member state.

"The accusations against me are absurd, unjust and groundless, and the decision to hold me in detention is just a gratuitous humiliation," Socrates said in a letter issued by his lawyers and published in the press.

The 57-year-old, who was premier from 2005 to 2011, is being held in provisional detention, the first such high level official to be arrested in Portugal since the end of military dictatorship in 1974.

Investigators have been looking into transfers involving Socrates` bank account compared with earnings he has reported to tax authorities, the latest in a series of probes involving the former Socialist leader.

Under provisional detention, suspects accused in cases of "extreme complexity" -- such as Socrates -- can be held for up to a year although the investigating magistrate must reexamine the situation every three months.

His lawyer Joao Araujo said Wednesday that he would seek his client`s release next week, charging that his detention was illegal.

Socrates said any implications that the opposition Socialists were involved "harmed not only the party but also democracy".

"I will defend myself with all the weapons of the rule of law (to) refute these lies against me," he said.

The probe comes at a difficult time for the Socialist party, which is trying to regain power in parliamentary elections next year.

Its secretary general Antonio Costa, a candidate for the post of prime minister, has called for party supporters to stay focused on political issues rather than the Socrates scandal.

Former president Mario Soares, the founder of the Socialist party, paid a visit of solidarity to Socrates on Wednesday, describing him as a "great figure".

From Zee News

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