THE LEADER of the Portuguese extreme right Nazi-style ‘Hammer Skins’ organisation, Mário Machado, has been sentenced to four years in prison.
For the first time in Portugal, a collective of judges has handed down prison sentences for racial discrimination and inciting racial hatred.
On Friday, the court at Monsanto in Lisbon found 31 out of 36 defendants – all skinheads –guilty of racism and crimes of a racist nature.
Of these, six were handed down prison sentences, five were absolved, while the others received suspended prison sentences, were awarded fines or given community service orders.
The longest prison sentence was awarded to Paulo Maia, who was given six years, while Mário Machado and Vasco Leitão – both linked to the extreme right party Partido Nacional Renovador (PNR) – were given four years.
Paulo Maia was found guilty of racial discrimination, kidnapping, aggravated incitement, actual bodily harm and holding illegal arms. It was Maia who, two years ago in Amadora, shot and injured two men for racial reasons. Judge João Felgar also handed down a five-year prison sentence to defendant Pedro Isaque.
Playing to the press by giving a Nazi salute, Mário Machado, the figure who has attracted the most media attention over the past two years for his outspoken rhetoric, said that “blacks and gypsies were the ones that should go to prison”.
Before the sentences were handed down, Mário Machado said that even if he were to be condemned, he would continue to defend “nationalist ideas” and accused the Prosecutor Cândida Vilar of being part of a “Masonic mafia” which also included the Minister of Internal Administration, Rui Pereira, of whom he called its “Grand Master”.
When the judge announced that Nuno Themudo da Silva was not guilty, supporters of the accused, present at the court session, clapped enthusiastically. Nuno Themudo da Silva was on a conditional suspended sentence for his alleged part in the death of a Cape Verde Portuguese citizen, Alcino Monteiro, in Bairro Alto, Lisbon, in July 1995.
Outside the court, the president of the PNR, José Pinto Coelho, called the court case a “political show trial”. “What can you expect from a regime such as this which is corrupt, Masonic and Marxist,” he said.
SOS Racismo, an organisation which helps support racial minorities from racism, congratulated the judges on their decision. “For the first time in Portuguese history, inciting hate against others because of race is seen as a crime, one which cannot be concealed behind the argument of freedom of expression,” said
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