Portugal court lifts house arrest on ex-premier Socrates
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Former Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates left home as a free man for the first time in 10 months on Saturday after a Portuguese court lifted the house arrest that it had imposed on him.
The state prosecutor and Socrates’ lawyers said the 58-year-old was now free to leave, but still must remain in Portugal unless given special authorization.
Socrates met with his legal representatives until the early hours of Saturday and “is now a free man, who can talk whenever he likes,” his lawyer Joao Araujo said.
Later, Socrates left his home to visit Mario Soares, president of Portugal from 1986 to 1996 and twice prime minister.
“I’m going to visit a friend, Dr. Mario Soares, and hope to repay all the visits he made me,” Socrates told journalists on his doorstep.
Socrates, who was in power from 2005 to 2011, just before Portugal was given a 78 billion euro (then $87 billion) bailout, has spent 10 months under arrest while police and prosecutors investigate him for suspected corruption, money-laundering and tax fraud.
Portugal’s center-right coalition government was re-elected to another four-year term on Sunday, winning a general election on the back of an improving economy.
However, it fell short of a crucial outright majority in parliament and the country’s political parties have been wrangling since the Oct. 4 ballot over which one of them should be in charge of forming a government.