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Corruption charges against former Portuguese PM dropped but Socrates will still stand trial

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By Mark Armstrong with AP
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Jose Socrates outside the court
Jose Socrates outside the court   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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Former Portuguese prime minister Jose Socrates will have to stand trial on charges of money laundering and forgery.

But a judge in Lisbon ruled on Friday that more than a dozen other allegations of corruption against him would not proceed because they had expired under the country's statute of limitations.

Speaking outside the court Socrates said the judgment vindicated him.

"All the big lies told to the Portuguese people for seven years, the reason I was arrested, defamed, are false," claimed Socrates. "That was proven here today, the judge went through those accusations in detail. The matter of the hidden fortune that is false, that is a lie."

The former prime minister still stands accused of taking money in return for favours.

Judge Ivo Rosa ruled that €1.7 million, much of it in cash, given to Socrates by a childhood friend who was working for a Portuguese construction company, amounted to an attempt to gain influence over the prime minister and win contracts.

Socrates argued that the money and other assets, such as works of art and the use of an upscale Paris apartment, were loans from his longtime friend.

The forgery charges relate to documentation linked to the payments.

The judge said that because payments were in cash and that in phone conversations the two men used code words when talking about money suggested corrupt acts.

Both the prosecutors and Socrates will be able to file an appeal against the ruling.