Doctor tells court he saw priest with no medical training “suturing patients”

A court in Penafiel has continued to hear horror stories of life under priest António Baptista – on trial accused of the mistreatment of adults and children in a Beire mental asylum near Paredes. Aside from various allegations of physical abuse, a volunteer doctor has testified that he saw Baptista suturing patients even though he had warned him that this was inadvisable as the priest had no medical training.

One of the multiple accusations against Baptista is that he failed to seek hospital treatment for a patient who later died. The patient had been ‘sutured’ by the priest, former colleague at the institution Acácio Queiroz told the court earlier this month.

Baptista gave the man “two pastilles to anaesthetise him” and then started suturing, with the man held down by inmates.

The volunteer doctor who gave evidence on Monday said he had “advised” Baptista that the priest needed to hire more staff with medical knowledge.

Baptista meantime has “not wanted” to make any statements in open court.

When the case first came into the public eye last May, it was explained that Baptista had been in charge at the Obra da Calvário asylum for “more than half a century”.

Many of the people he is alleged to have abused are simply not equipped to speak for themselves, but volunteer Rosa Maria has already given evidence to say all the inmates were “very frightened of the priest”.

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