The mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira is accused of misconduct for favouring the family's real estate company, of which he was a partner, while in office.
The mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, goes on trial on Tuesday as part of the Selminho case, in which he is accused of misconduct for favouring the family’s real estate company, of which he was a partner, to the detriment of the municipality.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) accused, in December last year, the independent mayor of prevarication (of holding political office), also defending the loss of his mandate, for favouring one of his and his family’s real estate companies – Selminho -, during his mandate (he took office on 23 October 2013), to the detriment of the municipality.
In the optional phase required by the defendant, which aims to decide by a criminal instruction judge (JIC) if the case proceeds and in what form for trial, the Criminal Investigation Court of Porto concluded that the mayor “acted with the direct intention of benefiting the interests of Selminho, of which he was a partner, to the detriment” of the municipality, in the legal dispute between the municipality and the real estate company, which wanted to build an apartment building on land at Calçada da Arrábida, in Porto.
According to the JIC, “no evidence was produced that could undermine” the accusation of the MP and decided to take Moreira to trial by understanding that it is “solidly predictable” that, in trial, the mayor will be convicted.
In the debate, lawyer Tiago Rodrigues Bastos asked that his constituent did not go to trial, saying that the Selminho case was based on “a process of intentions, theories and fabrications” of prosecutor Nuno Serdoura.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office maintains that the mayor “violated the duties of legality, pursuit of public interest and impartiality, in decisions that he took in the management of a conflict that opposed the municipality against a commercial company [Selminho]”.
The indictment states that Selminho “had been, since 2005, fighting the municipality for the right to build an apartment building on a plot of land located at Calçada da Arrábida, in Porto, a right that the municipality did not recognise”.
This was because it considered that the intended urbanistic operations were not in accordance with the Municipal Master Plan (PDM).
The MP stresses that, given this position, Selminho filed a lawsuit in the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Porto, in December 2010, asking for the declaration of illegality of articles 41 and 42 of the PDM – rules from which derived the unfeasibility of construction – “or, if this request failed, the condemnation of the municipality in the payment of compensation for damage caused by the application of those rules to the land where he wanted to build.
The MP concluded that Moreira, after taking office as mayor of Porto, in October 2013, passed a power of attorney to the lawyer Pedro Neves de Sousa so that, on behalf of the municipality, he could “change the legal and/or urban planning position that he had been successively adopting, both in judicial litigation and in administrative procedures, regarding the commercial company’s claim to build on that land”.