Clearly very weak and vulnerable, Rúben Cavaco – the teen brutally beaten by the 17-year-old twins of Iraq’s ambassador to Portugal – has been interviewed by national television against the wishes of the lawyer hired by his family.
In a four-minute clip in which RTP took care not to show the boy’s face, Rúben answered questions from the bed in which he is now recovering in his grandparents home in Santarém.
Back with his family on the eve of his 16th birthday, the youngster admitted he could not remember anything about the attack in Ponte de Sor (Alentejo) which has been in the media headlines ever since.
His aggressors, Haider and Ridha Ali, have already appeared on television, saying their attack was an act of self-defence.
It is a story that is not being accepted by the authorities who have since called on Iraq to lift the boy’s status of diplomatic immunity.
But while Iraq has yet to respond, Rúben’s family’s lawyer Santana-Maia Leonardo has hit out at RTP’s behaviour, which he labels a “betrayal”.
“I made it very clear that they should just speak to (Rúben’s) mother”, he has explained.
Any conversation with the boy who has undergone extensive facial reconstructive surgery and been submitted to a medically induced coma was “out of the question” as Rúben is neither “physically or psychologically” ready to be put on the spot, and the case is still technically protected by Portugal’s Secrecy of Justice rule.
The lawyer told national tabloid Correio da Manhã that RTP gave him their word that they would not interview Rúben.
But instead, the station “took advantage of the kindness of the mother and the fact that I was not there”, he told the paper.
RTP recorded the interview and then aired it, even though the lawyer called them to reiterate his opposition once he realised what was happening.
“I called them on Friday, and today (Saturday), but they didn’t want to know. The fact that they aired the interview was a complete abuse and huge betrayal”, he told CM.
RTP sees it another way, the paper explains, saying Rúben’s statement is relevant considering the “special repercussions of the case that involves the diplomacy of two countries”.
Rúben is reported to have lost 11 kilos since the brutal attack on August 17 that left him unrecogniseable (click here).
But the heartening news is that he appears to have suffered no long-term neurological consequences, and though without memory of what happened, is able to talk perfectly coherently.
His clearly-relieved mother told RTP that he is “young and strong” and that with time she has “faith” in a complete recovery.
Regarding news stories of a future “compensation deal” with the Iraqi ambassador, she stressed the only thing that concerned her for the moment was the recovery of her son.
Rúben is only now beginning to understand what happened to him, she said, confirming that the first word he said when he emerged from his six-day coma was “Carro (Car)”, which has been attributed to the fact that police believe he was initially run into by the Iraqi embassy vehicle before being attacked.
PHOTO: RTP’s interview took care to protect the youngster’s identity and not “expose his physical state”.