Former Attorney General of the Republic Fernando Pinto Monteiro, who held the post between 2006 and 2012, died on Wednesday at the age of 80. The way he approached the performance of his duties was evident in a sentence he uttered in an interview: “The Attorney General of the Republic has the powers of the Queen of England.” That is to say little.
A law graduate from the University of Coimbra, this Beira was a prosecutor and also a judge. Among the various positions he has held, in addition to being the Principal Director of the Public Ministry, the Presidency of the Justice Council of the Portuguese Football Federation stands out. He was also Deputy High Commissioner at the High Authority against Corruption, having also served as Secretary General of the Portuguese Association of Judges’ Union.
His alleged closeness to José Sócrates earned him a lot of criticism. The fact that he had lunch with the former Prime Minister a few days before his arrest on November 22, 2014, raised suspicions as to whether the real reason for this meeting was not to warn him of what was going to happen. Pinto Monteiro denied it, saying it was an “innocent” lunch that would turn into a “complicated coincidence”.
“Engineer José Sócrates never asked me questions about justice. We talked about books, his travels, he talked about Lula da Silva”, he guaranteed. Later, in 2015, the president of the Union of Public Prosecutors António Ventinhas accused him of preventing investigations into powerful public figures.
In a book published by the same organization, another leader of the prosecutors’ union, João Palma, was to criticize him just as fiercely, if not more fiercely. “There were very troubled times resulting from the policy of ostensible harassment and shameless attempt to manipulate the magistrates and the judicial system by the government of Socrates,” he wrote. “Pinto Monteiro’s tenure was certainly the darkest period in the history of the Democratic Public Ministry.”
one of the controversies which marked the mandate of Pinto Monteiro concerns the destruction of transcripts of conversations between José Sócrates and Armando Vara obtained through telephone tapping by the authorities. On the indication of the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Noronha do Nascimento, who considered these telephone taps as irrelevant and null, the Attorney General of the Republic proceeded to eliminate the transcripts. But he was not content to erase or eliminate passages of these conversations: the sheets of the file were cut with chisels at the places where the dialogues between Socrates and Vara were recorded.
His handling of the Freeport affair, in which the former prime minister was also involved, has also been the subject of fierce controversy. Pinto Monteiro said it was an “invented process” and regretted not having been able to “depoliticize the public ministry” during his tenure. mandate. “When I took office, Freeport was at a standstill. Because? Because the engineer Socrates had won the election. They stopped! The investigation stopped!”, he will complain more late, stressing that it was to date one of the most expensive procedures of the Portuguese justice. “They investigated everything, the judiciary cooperated, they investigated all your accounts. They did not nothing found. “
He even suspected that he was wired when he was Attorney General of the Republic: “I have a telephone that sometimes makes strange noises. There has never been proof of this, but the fact would not be without precedent: in the mid-1990s, one of his predecessors, Cunha Rodrigues, had found wiretaps installed in his office.
When he received the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ in 2013, Cavaco Silva – who appointed him on the proposal of the Socrates government – highlighted his “remarkable career devoted to the judiciary”. , as well as his exercise of functions “in a particularly delicate period of Portuguese justice”. This Wednesday the President of the Republic sent a note of condolences to the family. On the side of the current Attorney General of the Republic, to date, no reaction to the death is known.
This magistrate for whom the guilty plea was only a “legal monstrosity” was born in a village in the municipality of Almeida, Porto de Ovelha, on Easter Day, as the procession passed in front of the door of the house family. But he only lived there until he was four, after which he went to Sabugal to attend primary school and from there to Guarda, where he attended high school. It has always maintained links with the border regions where it was born.