Following on from the ruling that ‘grabbing your wife by the neck does not constitute domestic violence” (click here) , Portuguese judges appear to have gone a step further. A court in S. João Novo has ruled that although 38-year-old Fernanda Salomé was filmed hiring a hitman to kill her ex-husband, she cannot be found guilty of having committed a crime.
Judges have conceded, nonetheless, that this is a sentence that “common citizens” will find “hard to understand”.
Correio da Manhã explains that the decision rests on the fact that despite Salomé’s patent desire to kill her husband, the men she went on to hire “never meant to carry the job through”.
The victim was “never in any harm”, and Salomé did not go into any details for his death: she did not set a place, or time. “Everything was dependant on the will of the contracted (men)”.
One of these was Alfredo Damas, who has also been ‘absolved’ of wrongdoing, but ordered with Salomé to pay €10,000 in compensation to the husband who became “tormented”, the court heard, after hearing his ex-wife’s plans.
The court heard that Salomé’s ‘hit’ at one point also involved her ex’s mother and current girlfriend.
CM said that throughout the trial, Fernanda Salomé denied that her desires to kill her husband had to do with his million euro fortune. She insisted that the €175,000 ‘hit’ was simply ordered because she wanted him dead.
Seeing his client freed has left defence lawyer Luísa Macanjo “satisfied”, but it is causing ructions within the Public Ministry.
CM says the PM may well put in an appeal, as could the victim – himself a lawyer.
As to the judges’ ruling being “compreehensible”, penal law expert André Ventura has told the paper that it most certainly is not.
He explains that it “contradicts the fixing of jurisprudence in 2009 that considers these kind of cases as attempted murder. It also establishes the idea that penal censure depends on the will of third parties, when it should focus on the conduct of those who planned, negotiated and determined”.
The case could conceivably go on appeal to the Supreme Court which CM explains might act very differently. In 2007, for example, Portuguese American businessman Manuel Albert Soares – absolved in a lower court of hiring Russian hitmen to kill his wife – ended up being condemned to jail for a period of nearly five years.