Flamboyant former Sporting FC vice-president admits to being criminal mastermind

His arrest shocked the nation in March – not only for the crimes allegedly involved, but for the fact that Paulo Pereira Cristóvão was a media high-flyer.

A former PJ detective, he went on to be a popular television commentator, president of Portugal’s association of missing children and even vice-president of one of Portugal’s top football clubs.

Thus what would have impelled him to become a ‘spy’ for a criminal gang that posed as policemen to raid VIP homes in and around Lisbon, baffled all and sundry.

But ‘spy’ he appears to have been.

According to news reports this morning, it was Pereira Cristóvão’s admission to being the brains behind at least two of the robberies which led super-judge Carlos Alexandre to deciding to let him leave the country’s now infamous Évora jail on an electronic bracelet.

Unlike fellow inmate former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates – whose disdain for jailbird bling has led him to remain behind bars through the sweltering Alentejo heat – Cristóvão appears to have had no such qualms, and is already reported to be back home in Lisbon.

He is unlikely to be stuck for things to do under house arrest, as he is still involved in another case against him – alleging criminal activities during his time at Sporting.

Cristóvão’s unlikely career includes penning a book centred on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and being accused of torturing the mother of another missing Algarve child, in order to get a confession that she had been involved in the child’s death.

This latter event ended with Pereira Cristóvão and two other PJ colleagues being absolved.

The judicial ruling on the case was itself bizarre: “It is known that the agent of the crime (of torture) was an agent of the PJ but it has not been proved who practised the facts.”

Cristóvão was arrested over these latest allegations suspected of qualified robbery, kidnapping and criminal association. He spent three months in the cramped jail that has been the home of José Sócrates now for more than seven.

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