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Tue, Mar

Portuguese Prime Minister Steps Down Amid Corruption Probe

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Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa resigned shortly after prosecutors issued arrest warrants and raided government buildings due to a corruption investigation. Costa revealed during a televised news conference his amazement over a criminal case issued against him, insisting he had nothing to do with any "illicit of reprehensible act." He said he had not been named as a suspect but believed the inquiry was incompatible with staying in office. Prosecutors said on Tuesday they were investigating concessions awarded for lithium mines and hydrogen production. Five people have been detained, according to Público newspaper. Among them are two people seen as close to Mr Costa, including his chief of staff Vítor Escária, and a business consultant, Público reports.

Infrastructure Minister Joao Galamba has meanwhile been indicted as part of the inquiry into energy deals."The dignity of the functions of prime minister is not compatible with any suspicion about his integrity, his good conduct and even less with the suspicion of the practice of any criminal act," the prime minister declared on Tuesday.

He said he was caught by surprise by the corruption investigation but promised to collaborate with it."There is no illicit act that weighs on my conscience, or even any act that is subject to censure," he added.

Shortly after Mr Costa gave a televised address, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said he had accepted his resignation. About 140 detectives searched his residence, as well as 17 residential properties and 25 other premises, including the office of the prime minister's chief of staff and two government ministries.

They also searched municipal offices in Sines, the deep-water port that is the focus of investment in hydrogen for use as an energy source. Portugal's main PSI 20 share index was down almost 3% as the political crisis unfolded.

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