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Carlos Cruz, convicted in the Casa Pia paedophile scandal, leaves jail with head held high

Looking strong, well and talking with absolute conviction, former television presenter Carlos Cruz has left Sintra’s Carregueira jail after serving three years and three months for sex crimes against children that he insists he never committed.

Seemingly relaxed and unembittered over his nightmare journey since his arrest in 2003 in relation to the Casa Pia paedophile scandal, he told reporters waiting outside the prison: “When you are right, when you are innocent, strength is enormous. There are no obstacles. I was in here for 1600-odd days, but for me it seems like one, as every day I woke up and went to sleep innocent. This gives us the strength that the concept of time is no longer material. It is abstract, and we live in the hope that one day the truth will come to the surface.”

As for the ‘victims’ who named him in one of the country’s longest and most controversial trials, the 74-year-old told journalists he has no interest in meeting with them.

“They know they don’t know me and that I was never with them. They know I am innocent. What would be the point of talking to them,” he shrugged.

Cruz’s imprisonment was certainly lengthened by the fact that he refused to show remorse, or attend programmes designed for child sex abusers – his argument being that he was not guilty of being a paedophile.

His release last night came after Lisbon appeal court judges agreed that he served two-thirds of his six-year sentence (reduced from an original conviction for 18 years) and was thus legally entitled to his freedom.

But if he “does not behave well”, he told reporters, he will end up back in jail.

As for the future, “this is just another stage in a long marathon”. The next step is the European Court. “This doesn’t stop here,” said Cruz, affirming he was ready for a new trial “if it began tomorrow”.

SIC television news added one of the conditions of Cruz’s release was that he would seek work. This could come in writing, he said, adding that he also has “invitations to do things”.

But for the immediate future, it is his family and football that await Carlos Cruz, who was driven away to watch the Germany v. France match in the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com