Portugal's prime minister on Tuesday expressed confidence in the nation's justice system, one day after 10 people, including top political and TV figures, were charged with sexually abusing minors from a state-run home.
"I reaffirm my full confidence in Portuguese justice," Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso said.
"I expect the guilty will be punished and the innocent will be absolved," he said.
"The Portuguese just want justice to be done. I join them in this wish," he added, in his first public comments since charges were laid.
Public prosecutors said the 10 were charged with seven crimes, including rape, child sexual abuse and the procurement of minors for sex acts. No date for the trial has been set.
Among those charged are popular TV presenter Carlos Cruz, whose career spans more than three decades; comedian Herman Jose, whose Sunday night talk show tops weekly ratings; and the former Portuguese ambassador to South Africa, Jorge Ritto.
Parliamentary deputy Paulo Pedroso, a former employment minister in the previous Socialist government and the spokesman for the Socialist Party until his name became linked with the scandal earlier this year, was also charged.
The lawmaker said on Monday that he would take steps to have his parliamentary immunity lifted so he could be tried and clear his name.
Pedroso, who had been tipped as a possible party leader, was charged with 23 counts of sexual abuse of minors.
The charges followed a police investigation which began in November, 2002, after the weekly newspaper Expresso reported that a driver at Casa Pia, a Lisbon-based network of homes for troubled children, had sexually molested minors in his care for over three decades.
The driver, 46-year-old Carlos Silvino, went on trial in October on 35 charges related to the sexual abuse of four minors, including a deaf-mute.
Police meanwhile continued to investigate allegations that Silvino had helped wealthy child molesters meet youngsters, mostly boys, in his care since 1975.
That investigation led Silvino to be slapped with more than 1,100 fresh charges on Monday, including 664 charges of child sexual abuse and 33 charges of procurement of minors for sex acts.
The others charged on Monday included a former director of Casa Pia, Manuel Abrantes; a doctor who reportedly carried out medical tests on the children before they were sexually abused, Joao Ferreira Diniz; a noted archeologist, Francisco Alves, and a 61-year-old woman, Gertrudes Nunes, who owns a home in southern Portugal where some of the sexual abuse was said to have occurred.
The child molestation case has dominated headlines in Portugal since it first broke, and has shaken confidence in public figures.
The upcoming trial of the accused is being billed as the first major test of Portugal's notoriously slow legal system since the country returned to democracy in 1974 after nearly five decades of repressive right-wing dictatorship.
‘TRAVEL FREELY’: Visitors from 10 countries deemed low-risk would be allowed into Thailand, while others must still undergo a week of quarantine at a hotel Thailand plans to fully reopen to vaccinated tourists from countries deemed low risk from Nov. 1, the country’s leader said on Monday, citing the urgent need to save the kingdom’s ailing economy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand attracted nearly 40 million visitors a year drawn to its picturesque beaches and robust nightlife, with tourism making up almost 20 percent of its national income. However, pandemic-related travel restrictions have left the economy battered, contributing to its worst performance in more than 20 years. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the country would be reopening its borders to vaccinated tourists travelling by air from
Vaccination is highly effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19, even against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, a vast study in France has shown. The research published yesterday — focusing on prevention of severe COVID-19 and death, not infection — looked at 22 million people over 50 and found those who had received jabs were 90 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die. The results confirm observations from the US, the UK and Israel, but researchers say it is the largest study of its kind so far. Looking at data collected starting in December last year, when France launched its vaccination campaign,
Australia’s highest court yesterday dismissed an intellectual freedom claim by a university physicist who was fired in part over his public statements that scientists exaggerated damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Five High Court judges unanimously dismissed physicist Peter Ridd’s claim that he had been unlawfully dismissed in 2018 by James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. The court ruled that a clause in his employment contract that protected his intellectual freedom was not a “general freedom of speech” clause and did not protect him from being fired for serious misconduct under the university’s code of conduct. Australian Minister for Education Alan Tudge said
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: The US and the EU have said they are ready to back humanitarian initiatives in Afghanistan, but are wary of providing direct support to the Taliban Afghanistan’s new Taliban government has warned US and European envoys that continued attempts to pressure it through sanctions would undermine security and could trigger a wave of economic refugees. Acting Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi told Western diplomats at talks in Doha that “weakening the Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone because its negative effects will directly affect the world in [the] security sector and economic migration from the country,” a statement published late on Tuesday showed. The Taliban overthrew Afghanistan’s former US-backed government in August after a two-decade-long conflict, and have declared an Islamic emirate