Cautionary tale precedes massacre trial of Portuguese “sociopath”

In a country that prides itself on secrecy of justice, it’s perhaps a surprise that Correio da Manhã criminal journalist Tânia Laranjo has released a book about Pedro Dias, the man dubbed “a dangerous sociopath” and currently awaiting trial for the so-called Águiar da Beira massacre, in which three people died – one of them an on-duty GNR policeman.

But Laranjo’s boss Octávio Ribeiro explains the book highlights “how, even 40 years after the implantation of Portuguese democracy, it is still possible to favourably influence the decisions of courts” in this country.

Pedro Dias was a loose cannon – and the massacre that shocked the country last year (click here), “a tragedy waiting to happen”, he said.

During the presentation of “O fugitivo” in Lisbon yesterday (Thursday May 4), Laranjo said: “The book is also my own reflection on how things could have gone better, on lessons that were taken from this case in terms of criminal investigation”.

Ribeiro added that what led up to the incident known as the “Beira bloodbath” were “pardon after pardon” handed out to Dias by magistrates in earlier years.

“The book relates a side of Dias that is not known”, Correio da Manhã adds. “His childhood and adolescence in Arouca, the protection of his parents since always, a privileged life and the influence of the region. It also mentions all the judicial cases in which the murderer (sic) was involved” before the moment in which he is alleged to have taken his first life, in the early hours of October 11, 2016.

“O fugitivo” then goes on to detail the 28 days that Dias spent “on the run”, managing to evade a massive police presence drafted in to find him.

Dias ended up giving himself up in the full glare of TV cameras (click here), and is now in Monsanto high security jail, near Lisbon, awaiting trial.

For now, it is now known whether Dias’ lawyers will challenge the legality of publishing a book asserting the guilt of their client ahead of his trial.

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