segunda-feira, 28 de outubro de 2013

Supreme Court Rules Calheta Beach Hotel was illegaly built

The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that the Calheta Beach Hotel, belonging to Bertie´s pal, Madeira's biggest contstructor, Avelino Farinha, has been built illegaly. The hotel, opened in 2004, may now have to be demolished.

The building was in fact never licensed at all! Calheta Municipality, which had contested the decision, claims that since the City Council did not decide on whether to approve the project within thirty days of the project having been submitted, it was automatically tacitly approved... Wonderful! So who in the City Council could be held accountable for illegalities?

The project also raised questions of the use of Public Maritime Domain, since it built within 50 meters of the sealine and site was only licensed for use as a restaurant for a five year period, which has since ended.

But Avelino continues to be in Bertie's good books. Last week, his company AFA won a government cotract for regularising the stream in Ribeira Brava, for 59 million Euros, while the two rival bidders had put in tenders averaging 40 million.

quarta-feira, 23 de outubro de 2013

Jardim acuses Michael Blandy of Fomenting Coup d'Etat

Less than a week after the elections, the Jornal da Madeira printed a news article accusing Michael Blandy of fomenting a coup d'etat:

It accuses Blandy of having a "diseased obssession" against Jardim and continues: "In the last two years, or be it, since the 2011 regional elections, Madeira is witnessing an attempt at an internal coup d'etat, lead by the Blandy economic group, which assumes itself as the real leader of the opposition".

The piece is not signed by any journalist and was given a full front page spread.

Jardim's propaganda reminds me of the Khaddafi's interview shortly before the dictator was ousted, when he kept repeating "my people love me, my people love me" and blamed all his troubles on foreigners.

sexta-feira, 18 de outubro de 2013

Paulo Morais on Corruption and Justice in Portugal

Of the cases you have denounced, have you ever managed to see one to its conclusion?
There are many. The Public Prosecutor has considered them and it is with some perplexity that I see how some have been thrown out, such as the Porto Underground case. At one point, the Porto Underground decided to acquire some land in Campo dos Salgueiros. It was valued at 5 million Euro. But the Metro decided to pay almost 9 million for a piece of land they knew was worth less than 5 million. I denounced this and presented official documents, valuations, the  meeting minutes of the board of directors, and the Public Prosecutor decided to shelve the process because they did not know where the extra four million went. The Portuguese people were robbed of 4 million in that one deal alone.

Is there no corruption in Porto? At least we know no news of any.
There is no corruption anywhere. For there to be a crime of corruption you need to know what is the aim of the corruption, what is the material gain, who is corrupted, who is corrupting, what links all these facts together and what all the connections are. An accusation of corruption only occurs when the corruptor and the corrupted walk into court hand in hand, and even then it’s hardly likely. In cases such as embezzlement or malfeasance, there can be developments, the accusation is relatively simple. But investigations are rare, and when they are made, there are rarely reach the stage of accusation, and  where [Public Prosecutor] does accuse the cases rarely go on trial, and when they do they rarely result in condemnations and when there are condemnations, those concerned do not go to prison.

Why does that happen?
Because the laws are complex, because the justice system is disorganized and functions in a medieval way. If we go into a Court, 70% of the people there are waiting. They should be called palaces for waiting rather than palaces of justice.

Paulo Morais is vice president of the NGO Transparency and Integrity

Excerpt from interview to I newspaper in June 2103

Madeira Secretary of Tourism refuses to go on trial

Conceição Estudante, Madeira's Secretary of Tourism has refused to go on trial to answer on two criminal processes. The letter of refusal was read out in the Regional Parliament. No one was informed what the charges are, nor even if the gravity of the crime would allow Estudante to claim Parliamentary Immunity.

In Madeira, its as simple as that. Parliamentary Immunity for Jardim's party works as a general amnesty. The opacity is total and the impunity legendary.

quarta-feira, 16 de outubro de 2013

Former PSD Youth leader becomes independent in the Madeira Parliament

José Pedro Pereira, the former leader of the PSD youth abandons his parliamentary group to become an independent.

In a press conference to announce the move, Pereira attacked those in his parliamentary group ‘who stuffed their bellies at the expense of other, promoting a policy of mediocrity, ignorance and incompetence with the sole aim of maintaining their power within the party and so guaranteeing the continuity of their dodgy dealings’.

Pereira’s attack is ostensibly aimed at the PSD parliamentary leader Jaime Ramos and leaves the PSD majority hanging by a thread. José Pedro’s defection reduces the PSD MPs to 24; the opposition has 22. José Pedro’s vote could tip the balance in the Parliament should any of the PSD members absent themselves.

Such a defection in the PSD ranks is unprecedented and  viewed with some incredulity, since Pereira is one of the most radical supporters of Jardim. No one believes he could have taken this decision without his support. Cynics say this may be a move by Jardim himself in his party leadership race with Albuquerque: If a motion of no confidence is voted through, new regional elections would be called before PSD internal could be held, leaving Jardim to candidate himself for yet another mandate at the head of the regional government.

It all seems rather absurd, but Jardim’s thirst for power is quite irrational.

Is Illegal Block of Flats to be Demolished?

The ‘A Ver o Mar’ block of flats, where Jardim’s family owns an apartment was approved by the Municipality in 1996 and was built in 1997. The building was taken to court by neighbors who challenged its legality.

In 2005, the Funchal Court ruled that the building violated the city plan. It exceeded what was allowed both in volume and number of floors. The Funchal Court’s decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008.

The Supreme Court annulled the decision which authorized the building and condemned the city to revert to the situation prior to the annulled act. In other words, to demolish the building. The City Council refused to comply with the Court’s decision.

Faced with over five years of inaction, another court case has been put in to condemn the city to comply, by demolishing the building, and requiring all that all the sales contracts, which are based on an illegal decision, be declared null and void.

segunda-feira, 14 de outubro de 2013

What was different about the last elections

In a talk show, last week, the PSD representatives had a common theme tune: The choice of the people must be respected, after all, these were democratic elections just like all the previous ones.

Not quite. Although the result was no doubt due to Jardim's ever growing impopularity, there were also less violations of the election laws.

Jardim's trump card has always been the public inauguration ceremonies. These occasions were marked by huge banquets for the attending masses, preceded by  political speeches where Jardim ranted against the opposition parties. Two or three of these ceremonies would be held daily and Jardim's hate speech would be broadcast over television and radio...

This year, not only were the inaugurations fewer, but some were devoid of the usual banquets and Jardim kept his speeches impartial and short - less than two minutes. With several cases pending in the justice system for election violations, perhaps he was forewarned by state entities not to push his luck.

Jardim's other main weapon is the state-owned Jornal where the opinion-pieces are all written by PSD militants. In the run-up to elections, this usually meant three daily pieces praising Jardim and trashing the opposition. Now, however, most of the article-writers have dwindled away, and apart from Jardim himself, only one or two of his bootlickers remain active, and even their articles are luke warm.

The Jornal, however, continued to toe the line, promoting the PSD candidates above all others. In some editions, the PSD candidatures got twice as much coverage as all the other candidatures put together. A clear violation of the law, which should earn the director yet another criminal suit. Curiously, this bias towards the PSD candidatures was not due to coverage of the candidates themselves, but to the coverage of the campaign actions of a non-candidate - Jardim!

terça-feira, 1 de outubro de 2013

Court Ruling supports Audit Office judge against the decsision of the Public Prosecutor who decided not to send Madeira governants to trial

The newly appointed Public Prosecutor, attatched to the Madeira Court Auditors, Leonor Mesquita Machado, is reassessing the process which her predecessor, Varela Maritns, shelved.

The latter had decided not to send members of the Regional Government to stand trial, despite their existing indications of serious financial misdoings, namely of hiding debts in the Health and sports institutes.

The decision follows the ruling from the third section of the Court Auditors to ignore the complaint lodged by the Public Ministry against judge attatched to the Court Audit office