Appeal Court revoked measures against Rabbi of Porto

The decision went further and criticized the prosecutor's office, which charged Rabbi Daniel Litvak with the crimes of document falsification, influence peddling and more.

 Congregants pray at the synagogue of Porto, Portugal, Jan. 2, 2020.  (photo credit: JEWISH COMMUNITY OF PORTO)
Congregants pray at the synagogue of Porto, Portugal, Jan. 2, 2020.
(photo credit: JEWISH COMMUNITY OF PORTO)

The Lisbon Court of Appeal (TRL) revoked the coercive measures imposed on the rabbi of the Jewish Community of Porto, Daniel Litvak, considering that the prosecution of the Public Prosecutor's Office is based on a "generalization without factual basis".

According to Tuesday's ruling by the TRL, to which Lusa news agency (Portugal) had accessed this Wednesday, the Appeal Court judges fully granted the appeal filed by the defense in July against the coercive measures and left the defendant only subject to a term of identity and residence (TIR), ending the ban on leaving Portugal (with the return of his two passports), the presentations to the authorities three times a week”. 

"The contested order is revoked in the part in which it subjected the appellant to coercive measures of obligation to present himself daily on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Judicial Police in the area of his residence, and ban on leaving the national territory, and having to hand over his passports to the custody of the present case", reads the document.

Criticized the Public Prosecutor's Office

The decision went further and criticized the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP), which charged Litvak with the crimes of document falsification, influence peddling, active corruption, money laundering and criminal association in the case of alleged illegalities in granting nationality under the regime for descendants of Sephardic Jews.

Roman Abramovich (credit: CHELSEA FC/COURTESY)Roman Abramovich (credit: CHELSEA FC/COURTESY)

In June, three and a half months after the arrest of Litvak, for allegations of helping Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich illegally obtain a Portuguese passport and embezzling community funds received as part of applications for Portuguese passports, the Porto Jewish community responded to the Portuguese parliament and accused the state of antisemitic persecution.

Following the affair and the arrest, the Porto-Jewish community has opted to cease cooperating with the state regarding the approval of applicants for Portuguese citizenship from the state. Last week, the community submitted its response to the state’s intention to repeal the 2015 nationality law – which allows descendants of those expelled from Spain and Portugal to obtain Portuguese citizenship – and raised serious allegations of antisemitic persecution and methods reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition. “This is the greatest attack against a Jewish community in the 21st century, and it is being carried out against the strongest Jewish community in Europe today,” Gabriel Senderowicz, president of the Porto Jewish Community, said in June.

“This is the greatest attack against a Jewish community in the 21st century, and it is being carried out against the strongest Jewish community in Europe today,”

Gabriel Senderowicz, president of the Porto Jewish Community

"It is said that the defendant, in the exercise of his functions, had privileged knowledge and connections in the Registry Offices, which allowed him to give priority to requests for the acquisition of nationality to Sephardic Jews. But there is not a single fact to support this conclusion, namely which officials had privileged links with the appellant and, more importantly, what such knowledge and privileges consisted of", their decision read.

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich

Stressing that the intent attributed to the defendant's conduct is based "on nothing", the judges also contested the question of the funds that Litvak allegedly received for the issuance of nationality certificates within the scope of the activity of the Jewish Community of Porto (CIP) and alludes to the case linked to Abramovich, on which the investigation into the regime for granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews was launched.

The Attorney General's Office confirmed on 19th January that the granting of Portuguese nationality to Russian businessman Roman Abramovich under the Nationality Law for Sephardic Jews (Jews from the Iberian Peninsula who were expelled from Portugal in the 16th century) was the subject of an investigation by the MP.

“This case, which was presented to the world as a case of the sale of passports by a Rabbinate who acted for money, is actually a case that has been provoked by pro-Palestinian figures,” Senderowicz said on Thursday.