Portugal’s interior minister resigned Friday after a series of gaffes and missteps that could have made him a political liability for his center-left Socialist Party ahead of elections for a new government on Jan. 30.
Eduardo Cabrita, whose department oversees internal security, including police, the immigration service and firefighters, said he was standing down because opposition parties are “exploiting politically” his recent difficulties over a deadly road accident involving his official car.
The government car in which Cabrita was traveling struck and killed a highway worker last summer. Cabrita’s driver is accused of negligent homicide amid allegations the car was going at 166 kph (103 mph) — well over the 120 kph (74.5 mph) speed limit.
Earlier Friday, Cabrita triggered an outcry by denying any responsibility in the accident, telling reporters “I was just a passenger.”
Cabrita has been part of the Socialist government since 2015 but has been dogged by scandals that several times looked likely to bring about his resignation.
In 2017, his department provided the country’s firefighters with protective bandannas that turned out to be flammable.
Last year, a Ukrainian man was beaten to death by immigration service officers at Lisbon airport while in custody.
More recently, Cabrita has been under fire over his restructuring of the immigration service, which is being absorbed into the police.
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