Government/resignation: Defendants begin to be heard in court today

Five people were arrested

The defendants detained as part of the investigation investigating lithium and hydrogen exploration businesses, which precipitated the resignation of António Costa, begin today to be heard by the judge at the Justice Campus, in Lisbon, after only being identified on Wednesday.

The five detained defendants were in court on Wednesday, but only to be identified, with their respective defenses having consulted the case, to learn about the facts alleged by the Public Prosecutor's Office.

Today, interrogations should begin, led by criminal investigation judge Nuno Dias Costa.

Nuno Mascarenhas, president of the Chamber of Sines, and Afonso Salema, administrator of the company Start Campus, detained as part of the investigation into the lithium and green hydrogen business, will give statements during the judicial interrogation, their lawyers said on Wednesday, to entrance to the court.

Tuesday's operation by the Public Prosecutor's Office was based on at least 42 searches and led to the arrest of five people: the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Vítor Escária, the president of the Chamber of Sines, Nuno Mascarenhas, two administrators of the company Start Campus, Afonso Salema and Rui Oliveira Neves, and lawyer Diogo Lacerda Machado, a friend of António Costa.

The Minister of Infrastructure, João Galamba, and the president of the Portuguese Environment Agency, Nuno Lacasta, were named defendants.

According to documents to which Lusa had access, Lacerda Machado allegedly used his friendship with the Prime Minister to influence decisions by the Government and other entities regarding Start Campus projects.

This process targets the lithium exploration concessions of Montalegre and Boticas, both in Vila Real, an energy production project from hydrogen in Sines, Setúbal, and the construction project of a data center in the Sines Industrial and Logistics Zone by the Start Campus company.

In this case, an independent investigation into the Prime Minister took place at the Supreme Court of Justice, after suspects invoked his name as having intervened to unblock procedures in the businesses being investigated, which led António Costa to submit his resignation to the President of the Republic.