sponsored by

Court gives verdicts in Portugal child abuse trial

Send a link to a friend

[September 03, 2010]  LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- A judge started reading a Portuguese court's verdicts Friday on more than 800 alleged crimes in a major child sex abuse trial that has lasted nearly six years.

InsuranceSix men and one woman stood accused of sexually abusing minors and adolescents, raping children and running a pedophile ring at a state-run children's home in Lisbon during the 1990s.

The trial, believed to be Portugal's longest, has included testimony from more than 800 witnesses and experts, including 32 alleged victims.

The accused include a national television celebrity and a retired ambassador in a case that shook public trust in the country's institutions when the allegations emerged in 2002.

The reading of the verdicts was expected to take much of the day Friday.

Ana Peres, the lead judge in a three-judge panel, read a summarized version of the court's decisions. The full document reportedly stretches to almost 2,000 pages.

The victims -- now aged between 16 and 22 -- have given chilling testimony during the trial and identified their alleged abusers by pointing to them across the courtroom.

"Some of the accounts could be considered pornographic," Peres told the small courtroom where a few members of the public were present.

The session started more than an hour late as several of the accused and their lawyers had trouble working their way through a crowd of journalists. And once they were inside they waited more than half an hour for proceedings to begin. The court gave no immediate explanation for the delay.

The trial is considering allegations of abuse centered on Casa Pia, a 230-year-old institution caring for roughly 4,500 needy children, most of them living in dormitories at its premises around the capital.

A 53-year-old former driver at the Casa Pia, Carlos Silvino, has confessed to more than 600 crimes and has incriminated the other defendants.

[to top of second column]

They include Carlos Cruz, a popular television presenter with a three-decade career in show business, and Jorge Ritto, a decorated career diplomat and former UNESCO ambassador. Three other men are also charged with child sex abuse, including a doctor and a former Casa Pia ombudsman. A 68-year-old woman, Gertrudes Nunes, is charged with providing her house for meetings between the children and the alleged pedophiles.

The six have denied the charges and say their lives have been ruined by the allegations.

The former ombudsman, Manuel Abrantes, said the allegations wrecked his career and family life.

"My life was destroyed overnight," he said.

Any defendant who is convicted will have the right to appeal.

The claims that a pedophile ring had preyed on children at the state institution for years rocked the public's faith in the authorities, who appeared unable to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

The protracted trial has also fueled outrage about Portugal's notoriously slow legal system.

[Associated Press; By BARRY HATTON]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor