LISBON, May 12 (Reuters) - Lisbon on Tuesday launched a disciplinary process against the Portuguese chief of EU anti-crime coordination agency Eurojust, over allegations he pressured investigators to shelve a corruption case.
The prosecutor general's office said in a statement the decision followed an internal investigation "of alleged pressures in the so-called Freeport case".
The probe into Jose Luis Lopes da Mota's actions began in early April after complaints from prosecutors and investigators.
Lopes da Mota is assistant general prosecutor as well as president and national member for Portugal at Eurojust -- the European Union body designed to improve coordination in implementing international laws and extraditions.
The case involves allegations that government officials took bribes to approve environmental permits for construction of the Freeport Outlet shopping mall near the Tagus River estuary in 2002. Prime Minister Jose Socrates was then environment minister.
Socrates has repeatedly denied media reports he misused his position in any way then and accused the media of a smear campaign in an election year.
The conversion of an inquiry into disciplinary process means investigators have to come up with a formal charge in the next 10 days, after which Lopes da Mota must present his defence.
If the allegations are then proved, possible penalties would range from a written warning to suspension or sacking. A criminal investigation might also be opened.
A spokesman for the Hague-based EU body said Eurojust was aware of the investigation, but would say only that "Eurojust is awaiting further evolution of the case". Lopes da Mota has been quoted in Portuguese media as denying putting any pressure on the investigators. (Reporting by Andrei Khalip and Shrikesh Laxmidas; editing by Andrew Roche).
* isto vai em inglês não vá alguém ler isto, perceber, e processar-me :P