Islanders lament “disrespect for law” as demolitions forge ahead despite appeals underway in court

Islanders in the embattled communities of Farol and Hangares (Culatra island) are in shock today as JCBs started tearing down two houses “protected by legal actions still under review in court”.

House number 32 on Farol – the home of 63-year-old Avelinho Nunes Rocha Condinho since he was a boy – is being ripped apart as we write.

The house – especially sited years ago so that his sister suffering from the effects of polio could get to the sea – should have been ‘protected’, a source for SOS Ria Formosa explains, as its fate is in the hands of an appeal now being considered by the Court of Appeal in Évora.

SOS’ Vanessa Morgado stressed that “civil appeals legally have a suspensive effect” on any kind of order to seize or demolish.

“This is a question of social justice”, she told us. “This kind of treatment from the authorities is killing people, bit by bit.

“I did everything I could to make the minister of the environment aware of the legal reasons why those houses should not be demolished”, she added.

“The whole thing is just breaking my heart.

“I can’t even go to the island. It’s just too much to see what has happened.

Avelinho’s wife Doria is also not well – a situation “being made doubly difficult” by the demolition of the home they loved with a passion.

Indeed, when the Resident stayed on the island two years ago – during another moment of crisis – Doria told us how she couldn’t bear to think of a time when the house would be no more (click here).

Vanessa stresses says she is convinced that claims for damages can and will follow, which “will only go to tarnish the image” of environment minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes, who “knew precisely the situation” before the arrival of the wrecking teams.

The other house which should have been protected by law due to proceedings underway in court is House No 28 on the community of Hangares, belonging to Maria de Lurdes Seromenho, process number 802/16.6T8FAR Cível – J2.

Sociedade Polis originally set out to demolish hundreds of homes within Ria Formosa (click here for the Residents’ first story).

Island residents’ extraordinarily tenacious fight has seen that number consistently reduced most recently to 80, then 5o, then 22 and now this week to eight.

Matos Fernandes has said in parliament that these demolitions are to be the last before a change in strategy and new way forwards, in collaboration with island communities (click here).

Tragically, the hope these words kindled has now lost much of its sparkle.

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