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Portugal’s prime minister has ‘total political confidence’ in justice minister

The Prime Minister has expressed “total political confidence” in the Minister for Justice, Francisca Van Dunem, and argued that the “lapses” in the CV of European Public Prosecutor José Guerra originated from a note from the Justice Policy authority.

In recent days, Francisca Van Dunem has been at the centre of a controversy after several media reports that in a letter sent to the EU in 2019, the Portuguese executive presented false data on the government’s preferred magistrate as European Public Prosecutor, José Guerra – after being appointed by the High Council of Public Prosecutors – after a committee of experts considered Ana Carla Almeida the best candidate for the post.

In the communiqué, António Costa begins by stressing that “it is up to the Government to choose the candidates to represent Portugal in the European Public Prosecutor’s Office”.

However, according to the Prime Minister, “to ensure impartiality in this choice, the Government presented a draft law – which parliament approved – giving the highest councils of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Magistrature, independent bodies in the management of magistrates, the powers to select the names of magistrates to be appointed by the government”.

“The Supreme Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office approved an ordered list, with José Eduardo Guerra as the first to appear. The selected members were also heard at a hearing in parliament and subsequently by a selection committee appointed by the EU Council, which brings together the governments of all the member states. The opinion of this Committee, which is not binding, did not produce any grounds or argument on the part of the Government to change the choice made by the Supreme Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office”, observes the Prime Minister.

As for the errors in José Guerra’s professional résumé, which were contained in a note sent to the EU, the Prime Minister maintains that these are “two lapses which are not relevant to the selection process”.

“Moreover, the CV of the proposed candidate, which appears in the file submitted to the EU Council, does not contain any inaccuracies. In any case, today the Minister of Justice asked the Portuguese Ambassador to the EU to formally correct those lapses, which was done”, António Costa later noted.

Furthermore, according to António Costa, it was found “that the lapses originated from a note produced at the Justice Policy authority.

“The Minister of Justice [Francisca Van Dunem] today accepted the resignation of the Director General of Justice Policy, Miguel Romão”, the Prime Minister added.

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