Portugal's PM Quits After Chief of Staff Arrested

Antonio Costa says he's not a crook
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 7, 2023 5:46 PM CST
Portugal's PM Resigns Amid Corruption Probe
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa leaves after a news conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Tuesday Nov. 7, 2023.   (AP Photo/Ana Brigida)

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa resigned Tuesday after his government was involved in a widespread corruption probe, sending a shock wave through the normally tranquil politics of the European Union member. The 62-year-old Costa, Portugal's Socialist leader since 2015, asserted his innocence but said in a nationally televised address that "in these circumstances, obviously, I have presented my resignation to the president of the republic." The announcement came hours after police arrested his chief of staff while raiding several public buildings and other properties as part of the probe, the AP reports.

The state prosecutor's office said the Supreme Court was examining suspects' "use of the prime minister's name and his involvement" when carrying out allegedly illicit activities. It said the minister of infrastructure, João Galamba, and the head of the environmental agency were among those named as suspects. Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa quickly accepted Costa's resignation. He is expected to dissolve parliament and call for a new election. Costa teared up while thanking his family for their support. "I want to say, eye to eye to the Portuguese, that no illicit or even reprehensible act weighs on my conscience," he said. He acknowledged that he was not "above the law."

An investigative judge had issued arrest warrants for Vítor Escária, Costa's chief of staff; the mayor of the town of Sines; and three others because they represented a flight risk and to protect evidence, the prosecutor's office said in a statement. The judge is investigating alleged malfeasance, corruption of elected officials, and influence peddling related to lithium mine concessions near Portugal's northern border with Spain and plans for a green hydrogen plant and data center in Sines on the south coast.

(More Portugal stories.)

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