Portuguese interior minister resigns over car accident scandal

Portuguese interior minister resigns over car accident scandal

LISBON (AFP): Portuguese Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita resigned on Friday amid a scandal over a fatal accident involving his official car.

“I cannot allow this affair to be used politically” against the government “so I have asked to be relieved of my duties”, Cabrita told reporters.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa, speaking at a separate press conference, said he had “accepted this resignation request”.

The move comes less than two months before legislative elections, called after the 2022 budget proposals put forward by Costa’s minority socialist government were rejected by parliament.

In June, Cabrita was being driven in his ministerial car when it hit and killed a road worker on a highway in the southern Evora region.

On Friday the minister’s chauffeur was accused of criminal negligence.

Since the accident, the handling of the case has come in for some heavy criticism, with Cabrita accused of shirking his responsibilities and of insensitivity towards the victim’s family.

The day after the accident, Cabrita justified himself by explaining that there were no signs on the motorway to alert drivers to the cleaning work that was going on.

But a few days later, the company carrying out the work contradicted his version of events, stating that the proper “maintenance work signs” had been in place.

“This is an infamous episode, where the worst human insensitivity met the most shameless political irresponsibility by a minister,” said Joao Miguel Tavares, a commentator for the daily Publico.

Cabrita was appointed interior minister in 2017, shortly after a wave of forest fires hit Portugal, causing more than 100 deaths.

Before that he had served as deputy prime minister.

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