Judges ‘close ranks’ as MPs join outrage over ‘spiked club beating’ reprieve

Judges appear to have closed ranks around colleagues who spared two men jail sentences for attacking a woman on the basis that she was an adulteress and that adultery is a “very serious attack on a man’s honour and dignity” (click here).

As MPs rally to the wave of outrage, president of the Supreme Court of Justice António Henriques Gaspar has slammed the “intensity and violence of criticism”, saying it does no good service to justice, nor does it help defend the victims”.

It was not immediately clear whether he meant the victims of domestic violence – as per this particular case – or ‘victims’ of judicial decision-making.

But Henriques Gaspar ended his cutting tirade with reference to people “crying crocodile tears” and putting the “confidence in Justice” at risk.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the new president of Porto’s Court of Appeal – the same tribunal in which judges Neto de Moura, backed by Maria Luísa Arantes, delivered their unpopular ruling (click here).

He told the packed chamber: “”The manifestation of personal beliefs and states of soul and formulations of language of excessive subjectivity, are certainly not helpful as an argument and do not contribute to the quality of jurisprudence.”

As Público remarked, neither Neto de Moura nor Maria Luísa Arantes were in the audience, though both had been in the courthouse “away from the media spotlight and their peers” earlier in the day.

Meantime, the parliamentary subcommission for Equality and Non-Discrimination has indicated that it will be formulating a note in which it will explain its “perplexity and vehement repudiation” of the legal reasoning used by the judges.

Bloco de Esquerda MPs have also openly labelled the ruling misogynistic, citing previous Neto de Moura decisions that show “hatred of women” in general.

According to BE MP Sandra Cunha, judges like Neto de Moura “cannot judge crimes of domestic violence”.

“We know that this is not a one-off isolated case for this judge”, she added, stressing that “only 16% of complaints about domestic violence get to court and in more than 90% condemnations result in suspended sentences”.

The situation “shows that domestic violence is not taken seriously and that there is a tendency to exculpate (take the blame off) aggressors, which translates into a feeling of impunity for criminals” and leaves victims feeling completely unprotected.

As media stories explained yesterday, protests against the judgement are planned this weekend in Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra.

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