The Attorney General said on Friday that she will extend Operation Marquês and reassess progress in April, to the intense irritation of José Sócrates’ legal team which has pledged to use all legal means to challenge the extension.
An earlier statement from the Attorney General’s office announced the case against the former prime minister and 27 other defendants, would not be finalised until the end of June.
Portugal’s Attorney General, Joana Marques Vidal, decided that the director of the Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action, Amadeu Guerra, should provide "information at the end of April" on "the evolution of the investigation and the preparation of the final order and indicate the deadline necessary."
In a note sent to the media, the Office of the Attorney General pointed out that all elements had been analysed and weighed, and Joana Marques Vidal understood that "the request for an extension of the period allowed for the conclusion of the investigation and for the drafting of the final charges, is justified and should be attended to."
The director of the DCIAP said the deadline needed to be extended so as to strengthen the investigation.
The wide-ranging case looking into corruption, money laundering, tax fraud, misappropriation, counterfeiting and influence peddling, was started in November 2014 and now has 28 defendants, nine of which are companies.
The former prime minister’s legal team, Pedro Delille and João Araújo, say they "will challenge, by all legal means, this decision."
According to the lawyers, "the decision of the Attorney General to determine that the investigation continues without a time limit is illegal and illegitimate."
Socrates' supporters say the decision is an affront to his rights and to those of the other defendants.
The prosecutors had set out six grounds to justify the postponement of the investigation, including the need to further investigate Portugal Telecom, and to look at the responses to letters rogatory from Angola and Switzerland, should they ever arrive.