The Court of Loures has freed 37 members of the Hell’s Angels biker group from house arrest, allowing them to await the ongoing trial in freedom.
Reports Jornal de Notícias, the decision boils down to the fact that the trial will not end before the deadline for ‘arguidos’ (defendants) to be held without being condemned expires.
The case dates back to July 2018 when PJ police launched an operation targetting the biker group that resulted in the arrest of 56 people. A year later, 89 members of the group had been accused of hundreds of crimes, from criminal association to attempted murder.
The crimes were allegedly committed during a “war between biker gangs”.
Most of the accused appealed to avoid being taken to trial, but judge Carlos Alexandre ruled in October 2020 that 88 of the 89 ‘arguidos’ would be taken to court.
He also ruled that 42 of the ‘arguidos’ should be held under house arrest until the start of the trial.
Out of the 42, two did not comply as they live abroad. A third member was arrested later and a fourth will remain under house arrest due to another ongoing case.
While the 37 now released suspects will no longer be held under house arrest, they are bound by Portugal’s ‘termo de identidade e residência’ regime which obliges them to report every Saturday to their local police station.
Whether this new decision will make much of a difference remains to be seen, as it was reported in 2019 that the bikers who were being held under house arrest had been “violating the terms of their bail” without much that authorities could do.
The violations reportedly included ‘contacting each other’, frequenting clubs that they have been told not to enter and returning to jobs as security guards.
While the suspects have now been released from house arrest, JN adds that this does not mean that the measure cannot be reevaluated by the court later.
The trial started in September, more than three years after the first suspects were arrested.