Coimbra Convicted murderer released

PORTUGUESE DAILY newspaper, Correio da Manhã, has reported that a Coimbra bank manager, convicted last year of murder, has been freed because he has exceeded the time in jail allowed by law for remand prisoners.

The 61-year-old suspect was first detained in December 2002, accused of murdering a client, laboratory owner António Mateo. He was sentenced in February of last year to 18 years in jail, a sentence that the Supreme Court of Justice recently reduced to 17 years.

During his trial, the defendant had claimed he was visiting the victim at his home when two armed men burst in and attacked them, a version of events dismissed by the court at the time. The judge instead said he believed that the defendant took advantage of his functions as manager of the Banco Totta & Açores in Coimbra’s Solum, to gain the confidence of a client.

The appeal ruling that followed did not translate into an official judgement because the defendant failed to arrive to begin his sentence. By then, the maximum period of incarceration for preventative custody – 30 months – had elapsed. The prisoner, known only as “Carlos V”, has now been freed pending the completion of the judicial process.

The case follows a number of similar incidents involving remand prisoners, including that of Robert Branco. Sentenced in November 2002 for two murders, the appeal court later overruled the verdict and Branco was released from jail in July, when he had served 30 months on remand.