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Fifth man ordered into custody over probe into Palmela pedophile sect

A fifth man has been sent to jail in advance of the trial into a religious sect known as “Verdade Celestial” (Celestial Truth) believed to have been the front for a child sex-abuse ring, operating out of a suburban property in Palmela.

The man was remanded into preventive custody by authorities in Setúbal last week after reports ordered by the Public Ministry suggested “the danger of reincidence of the sexual abuse of children”, writes Correio da Manhã.

There are now a total of five men in preventive custody accused of a total of 400 crimes.

Among the alleged victims are three children of parents active within the sect, two of them believed to be the sons of the sect’s leader – a former football coach, aged 35, who passed himself off as a psychologist.

The latest man taken into police custody is described as a 29-year-old who had entered the sect via an online gay-dating site.

He is accused of 30 crimes, says CM, and subsequent personality evaluation has suggested he will continue with what the paper calls “criminal activity”.

Details of this story have been covered by other media sources which quote PJ investigators as saying: “This is a case study. It is not normal in Portugal. It seems almost unbelievable that something like this could take place in what looks like an ordinary house”.

The so-called sect was raided last summer, but still there is no indication when the trial will go ahead.

Observador website writes that the Public Ministry has asked for the removal of the parental rights of the accused – five men and three women.

“Meantime, the CPCJ (commission for the protection of children and minors at risk) is evaluating the case. Beyond the children of the suspects, it will be looking at the other child victims to see if they are secure in the conditions in which they are living”, says the site.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com