Edition 1437
19 August 2017
Edition: 1437

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Eighteen PSP officers face unprecedented accusations of allegedly torturing Cova da Moura youths in racially-motivated case

in News · 13-07-2017 13:54:00 · 0 Comments

Eighteen PSP police officers, among them a police Chief, are facing unprecedented charges of slander, physical offence and false testimony, aggravated by hate and racial discrimination, against six youths from the notorious Cova da Moura council estate in Lisbon.

Eighteen PSP officers face unprecedented accusations of allegedly torturing Cova da Moura youths in racially-motivated case

According to the information available on the District Attorney’s website, the 18 PSP officers are also accused of other “cruel and degrading treatment or inhumane treatment and aggravated kidnapping” and falsifying documents.
The incident was triggered in February 2015 after a PSP vehicle was pelted with stones following a call-out to disturbances in the neighbourhood.
The accusation is a first for Portuguese criminal history and comes following a two-year investigation conducted by the PJ’s National Counterterrorism Unit into police violence against the six young Cova da Moura residents aged 23 to 25.
According to the Public Prosecutor (MP), in February 2015 the PSP officers “recorded facts in documents that did not correspond to the truth, practiced acts and uttered expressions that offended the body and the honour of the offended, made statements that did not correspond to the truth and deprived them of freedom. “
Público reports that the MP accuses everyone who was at the station of being involved in the occurrence, and has asked that all of the officers’ claims against the youths be shelved.
Early on in the investigation, according to the MP, the youths had been made the formal suspects in the case, after the PSP officers accused them of attempting to storm the Alfragide PSP station, which serves Cova da Moura, in an attempt to free another youth that had been arrested and was being held therein.
The PSP said the incident and the arrest were triggered after their van was pelted with rocks.
However, the PJ’s investigation later found this version of events to be untrue, based on evidence and around 30 statements gathered from the youths.
The MP reportedly concluded that everything kicked off after the initial youth was “arbitrarily and violently” arrested, before the police car was showered with rocks, not after, and taken to the station on 5 February 2015.
In his statement, the youth claims to have been violently manhandled and racially abused by officers during the arrest, being left with a bloody nose and mouth.
Six other youths belonging to a local association, who knew the arrested youth, decided to go to the station to enquire about his situation.
The MP states that these six youths were then set upon by police officers and dragged into the station in an unprovoked attack from which two managed to escape. A fifth youth was also caught up in the clash as he left a mobile phone shop next to the station.
All six were held at the PSP station for two days where the MP states they were humiliated and subject to enormous physical and psychological violence by officers, incited by sentiments of xenophobia, hate and racial discrimination. Only after being brought before a judge for an initial hearing were local ambulance services and INEM medics called in to provide assistance and take the youths to hospital for treatment.
As Público reports, these findings contradict a first investigation carried out by the General Directorate for Internal Administration (IGAI) into the officers’ conduct, and which had shelved the case.
Cova da Moura is notorious for being a crime-ridden migrant enclave, once dubbed one of Europe’s ‘most dangerous slums’, where the majority of its many residents are from Cape Verde.

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Edition 1437
19 August 2017
Edition: 1437

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter