All 7 defendants were found guilty in the biggest ever child sex abuse trial in Portugal. The verdict was delivered today after more than five years of court hearings and amid widespread public scepticism about the judicial system.
Six men and one woman faced over 800 charges relating to a sex ring abusing children from the Casa Pia state-run children’s home. The accused include Carlos Cruz, a former TV presenter; Jorge Ritto, a former ambassador; and a former deputy director of the Casa Pia itself. Between them they faced hundreds of charges relating to the rape and abuse of 32 boys in the 1990s. These boys are now between 16 and 22 years old. They were all residents at the Casa Pia children's home in Lisbon.
The main defendant was Carlos Silvino, a former driver for Casa Pia who abused boys on hundreds of occasions. He was also accused of offering them to men, including Cruz, for cash. Silvino, 54-year-old, confessed to 639 charges. He was jailed for 18 years.
The other 6 defendants were jailed for between 5 and 7 years. Ritto and Joao Ferreira Diniz, a doctor, were found guilty of six charges of sexually abusing minors, while Cruz and Manuel Abrantes, a former Casa Pia governor were convicted on five counts. A 68-year-old woman, Gertrude Nunes, faced 35 charges for having allowed her house in Elvas, near the Spanish border, to be used for the abuse.
The abuse at the Casa Pia home is said to have started in the mid-1970s, but was not discovered until 2002. The trial has been a very long process due to the sheer numbers of witnesses, over 800. During the police investigation it emerged that officials had two decades earlier uncovered indications of organised abuse, but an inquiry into the allegations was ultimately shelved.
Since the start of the investigations in 2002 much has been done within the Portuguese child care and police systems to make reporting and investigating of child abuse easier and more open
Friday 3rd September