LISBON, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Portugal's former prime minister Jose Socrates renounced his membership of the Socialist Party (PS) on Friday, saying he had been condemned without trial by the party he led in the government.
Socrates, who is awaiting trial on corruption charges, announced his decision in the Jornal de Noticias newspaper.
"As leader and now, in more difficult times, I have always found support and solidarity from PS members," wrote Socrates. "But the injustices the management of the PS are now directing towards me, joining right-wing political forces in attempting to criminalize a government, has gone beyond the limits of acceptability on a personal and political level."
The former prime minister had been angered by comments made by Carlos Cesar, the PS leader in parliament, who said on Wednesday that Socrates had brought shame on the party.
"The PS, like any party, feels embarrassed, if what's being said proves to be true," Cesar told the TSF radio station.
Cesar was referring to new allegations of graft directed at Manuel Pinho, Portugal's minister of the economy and innovation under Socrates. But when asked about Socrates, Cesar said the embarrassment was "even greater," given that Socrates had been prime minister.
Socrates felt such comments violate his right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. "The time has come to put an end to this mutual embarrassment," he wrote.
Socrates was arrested in 2014 as part of a four-year corruption inquiry, known as Operation Marques. He faces 31 counts of corruption and fraud.
Among other things, Socrates is said to have received payments in a Swiss bank account from Ricardo Salgado, former head of the now defunct Banco Espirito Santo (BES), a Lisbon-based bank which was in 2014 split in two.
Recent allegations printed in the Observador newspaper suggest that Pinho also received regular slush-fund payments from Salgado.
In exchange, Socrates and Pinho are alleged to have used their political influence to favor companies in which BES was a major shareholder, including Portugal Telecom (PT) and Portugal Energy (EDP).
Socrates was prime minister between 2005 and 2011. He resigned from office after being forced to request an international financial bailout for Portugal. He joined the PS in 1981.