"The unreasonable comparisons that the President of the Republic of Angola made in the interview with the Expresso newspaper offend me deeply. I do not know the President, I am not part of your circle of friends and I am sorry to have to remind you that I am owed the same respect as I always dismissed the Angolan statesmen with whom I lived. I hope that it is not necessary to return to the subject", said José Sócrates, in a statement sent to Lusa.
At stake are the words of João Lourenço on the case of the former vice-president of Angola, whose process was sent by Portugal to the Angolan authorities. The President stresses that it was "a case of sovereignty" and that it was not Angola that caused what became known as "annoying" between the two countries.
"It was the Portuguese judicial authorities who decided to take a ruler of that caliber to the [Portuguese] courts. I am not imagining Angola having the audacity, for example, to take José Sócrates to court if, eventually, he had committed some crime in Angola. Fortunately, the outcome was good (...) if it had taken longer, maybe he would have left wounds, but I must guarantee that he didn't leave any", he said.
The Portuguese Public Prosecutor's Office charged Manuel Vicente with crimes of active corruption, money laundering and document forgery, a process that was sent in 2018 to Angola, but which has been dragging on, according to the attorney general, Hélder Pitta Grós, due to immunity enjoyed by the former vice-president.
João Lourenço preferred not to comment specifically on the case, which "is in court", but said he hoped that the judicial bodies would do "the part that is their responsibility", refusing to address the relationship he currently has with the former strongman of Sonangol, since, as he said, he is "absorbed 24 hours a day" with State issues.
The name of José Sócrates was also mentioned by João Lourenço in response to a question about the processes surrounding Álvaro Sobrinho, the Portuguese-Angolan businessman and former director of Banco Espírito Santo in Lisbon and of the BES Angola bank (BESA).
"He was not tried, he was not convicted, if he appears here I will not turn my back on him for sure, until proven otherwise he is a free citizen", he replied, adding: "In Europe, it is not normal to ask heads of state about cases of corruption, nobody asks President Marcelo about the José Sócrates case. However, sometimes it is understood that in Africa it is different, particularly in Angola".