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Joana Marques Vidal (1955-2024): “When Sócrates was detained, my concern was to ask: did they analyze it well, did they consider it well?”

She rarely gave interviews during the six years she was Attorney General of the Republic and is not very enthusiastic about posing for photographs, but Joana Marques Vidal seems to have adapted well to that house. As you would expect, otherwise. Daughter and sister of magistrates and raised in Coimbra, among people of law, she learned to grow up in the heart of the judicial system. It was with this ease, relaxed and smiling, that she received Expresso and SIC in one of the aristocratic rooms of the Palácio Palmela, between the canopies of its leafy garden and Largo do Rato, in Lisbon. Before we sat down, she explained how silence can be a virtue in certain places but also how there comes a time when it is time to speak.

Were you surprised by the scale of the corruption phenomenon in Portugal?
I must say I stayed. Although I consider that we cannot fall into the common phrase that Portugal is a corrupt country. We have institutions that work. But we are a country where the problem of corruption has a dimension that is urgent to attack. It must be seen as an essential issue of the democratic rule of law. I think that politically the response is not effective, it has been very superficial. There is no national strategy against corruption. Not only in the judicial response, I’m talking about the cultural dimension and the rejection that there should be from everyone. The issue arises in small businesses, in everyday life and in the capacity for total rejection. If we look at the political programs of the last elections, corruption appears there in one line. And it always appears related to the judiciary. Now, the fight against corruption is a fight for transparency. Transparency in the exercise of public office and against the financing of political parties.

There is Operation Marquês, the Lex case, the Golden Visas, etc. What happened for these processes to happen in such a short space of time, during his mandate, when they didn’t happen so much in previous mandates, namely that of his predecessor, Pinto Monteiro?
Over these six years, efforts were made to obtain funding, through European programs, to create a plan to train magistrates in this area, for two years. The granting of specific expertise and the use of IT tools were also reinforced, with the digitalization of processes. Basically, we invested in a set of structures, organization and knowledge that allowed us to work better

What is the role of the Attorney General of the Republic? Is it letting it be done?
The role of the attorney general is to promote organization, internal coordination and management capacity that allows magistrates to work better.

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Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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