Mayor of Pedrógão Grande accused of seven counts of negligent homicide 

Valdemar Alves, Mayor of Pedrógão Grande, is to be tried on seven counts of negligent homicide – and four of causing offences to physical integrity – relating to the ‘killer fires’ of 2017 in which 66 people died.

The Public Ministry finalised charges on Wednesday after a long drawn-out process in which Mr Alves has consistently refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the tragedy that shocked the nation.

Mr Alves is also an official suspect in another case centring on corruption within the process of reconstructing houses burnt down in the fires.

Says Correio da Manhã, he has been accused on 60 counts involving qualified fraud, abuse of political office and the falsifying documents.

Mr Alves however claims authorities carried out a “terrible investigation”. His ‘conscience is clear’ and he is confident he will be absolved of all wrongdoing.

It is remarkable perhaps that Mr Alves remains the mayor of Pedrógão Grande – but this new curve in his fortunes may see the situation change.

Mr Alves ‘changed his political party’ just before the fires – going from centre-right PSD to centre-left PS.

Explains Público, the Public Ministry investigation into the fires that spread across numerous boroughs, destroying roughly 500 homes and businesses (not to mention killing so many people, and injuring 253 others), originally accused 12 people, including the mayors of Castanheira de Pêra and Figueiró dos Vinhos. But Valdemar Alves was not accused. This however changed with an autonomous inquiry based on material extracted from the main case.

It may now be that Mr Alves faces trial with the others who have gone on to face charges in this case (click here) – scheduled to come up at Leiria court in March.

The Public Ministry’s understanding is that all the accused contributed to the tragedy through various forms of negligence.

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