Carlos Pereira, ex-Mayor of Santana and Abel Almada, City Councillor were both condemned to suspended sentences of three and a half years and three years respectively, for malfeasance.
The sentences were suspended on condition that they pay 20,000 and 10.000 Euros respectively, to four charities.
The case reported to the government-funded tennis court, built by a local club on the grounds of a private hotel. The charges that the whole operation was a scam were dropped, thus absolving Jaime Lucas, former head of the Madeira Sports Institute - now a local MP for the PSD.
The Mayor and Councillor were convicted for having allowed the court to be built without a license. They alleged that government projects did not require a municipal license, ignoring the fact that the Sports Club was the entity in charge of the project.
The sentence read: The illegality of the conduct of the accused is serious, because in their anxiety to legalize a project, with the sole aim of allowing it to be inaugurated one week before the 2004 regional elections to the benefit of the parties involved, they neglected the minimum basic rules of procedure.
Jardim reacted to the sentence insinuating that the two were convicted due to the political bias of the judges and that the convictions would be overturned on appeal.
He may be right in that the sentence may be overturned. The judges, far from showing political bias, had already thrown out the more damaging charges of fraud, letting Lucas, Candelária and other PSD henchmen off the hook; what remained were minor charges.
Shades of the Bacelar case….(more on that later)