Murder trial begins in Albufeira

FIVE MEN have gone on trial in Albufeira more than a year after they were arrested, accused of the murder of 38-year-old Irishman Michael Ahern.

Brian Murphy, Alan Sullivan, Brad Curtis and Kevin McMullen are all Irish citizens while the fifth man is English national David Figueira.

The crime occurred in September 2005. Police arrested the five suspects on September 17, according to the Irish Embassy in Lisbon.

Court proceedings began at the end of November and the second court session took place last week in Albufeira.

According to reports in the Correio da Manhã newspaper, Murphy pointed the finger at one of his accomplices. He said that Figueira shot Ahern in the head and stored his body in a large freezer in an apartment in Orada, Albufeira.

Murphy told the court that they had consumed a great deal of alcohol and cocaine while watching a football match in a bar in Lagos, confessing that he and Ahern had snorted lines of cocaine together in the toilets of the bar.

The court heard that after leaving the bar, a heated discussion ensued between  Ahern and Figueira during the car journey to Albufeira.

Murphy told judges that the argument concerned a miscarriage that Ahern’s Brazilian girlfriend had suffered.

In his anger, Ahern pulled a gun on Figueira, who managed to elbow Ahern and the weapon fell to the floor of the car.

Murphy said that Figueira grabbed the weapon from the floor and fired one shot followed by another three at Ahern’s head.

However, according to the same newspaper report, the prosecution said it believes that Ahern sustained a number of blows to the head. His feet were bound together, before he was bundled into the trunk. Somewhere between Lagos and Albufeira, as Ahern was making a great deal of noise and could have potentially raised suspicion, they stopped the car and shot him on the roadside, before returning him to the trunk of the car.

The prosecution holds that Ahern was still alive at this point and when they arrived in Albufeira, he was lifted from the trunk and taken up to one of the defendant’s apartments, where rope was tied around his neck. They fired three shots at his head and he died in the apartment, not in the car as the defence claims.

The men were arrested in the Algarve and interrogated before being transported to Portimão prison. The British Consul, Bill Henderson, told The Resident that Figueira was then transferred to a prison near Lisbon. Consular assistance was provided to all the men accused and the embassies are continuing to monitor the case, as well as arrange familial visitation rights to the prisoners.

The Resident confirmed with both the Irish and the British Embassies that all five of the accused are being held in the Instituto Prisonal de Lisboa, Lisbon prison institute, and are transported to the Algarve on the days of the trial proceedings.

Court has been recessed until after the New Year when the proceedings will continue.