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Vitorino graduated in law from the University of Lisbon. A lawyer by training, he was first elected to Parliament in 1980. He was part of the Portuguese administration in Macau, returning in 1989 to become a judge of the Constitutional Court.
In 1995, he became minister for defence and deputy prime minister in the first government of António Guterres. He resigned in 1997 for being suspected of tax evasion. After being cleared of the charges, he was appointed European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs.
In 2004, Vitorino refused to run for leader of the Socialist Party after the resignation of Ferro Rodrigues, despite being overwhelmingly the favourite candidate. José Sócrates become the new leader of the party instead of Vitorino.
Vitorino is married and has two children.
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- "As Notas Soltas de António Vitorino". Retrieved 14 June 2010.
- "Honorary Chairs – World Justice Project". Archived from the original on 2 October 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
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