Yesterday, October 10, would have been the 16th birthday of murdered Algarve teen Rodrigo Lapa.
Eight months after his brutal death, his killer/s are still ‘at large’.
Principal suspect, Joaquim Lara Pinto – Rodrigo’s former stepfather – has fled to Brazil, and for reasons no-one left behind seems able to fathom, nothing appears to be being done by Portuguese authorities to approach him for questioning.
As various media have reported over the last few months, Lara Pinto’s family has employed the best criminal defence lawyer they can find, and the pair have already presented themselves to Brazilian authorities, claiming Lara Pinto has no case to answer.
Will it conceivably be allowed to stop there? Rodrigo’s extraordinarily-united group of friends say no. They are demanding justice every way they can.
Following on from a protest outside Portimão’s court building last month (click here), they have now mounted a new petition for which they hope to amass over 1000 signatures.
Simply calling, once again, for justice, it can be found online (click here) and is rapidly gathering signatures. (For those who do not have a Portuguese Bilhete de Identidade, or Cartão de Cidadão, a fiscal number or residency card number will do.)
“The criminals are free, without any punishment, we cannot allow this situation to continue without news of the assassination of this young boy aged 15”, says the text.
“He had no way of defending himself. We cannot allow those who mistreat children and teenagers to get away with it. That is why we are raising this petition”.
Regional news source diarioonline marked Rodrigo’s birthday yesterday, also highlighting the lack of efforts made to bring his killer/s to justice.
“Today, due to another person/ other people, Rodrigo is not celebrating his 16th birthday. It’s tragic, and it is wrong that those who took his life are out there, living freely”, says the website.
Alluding to Rodrigo’s “large group of friends” determined not to let his memory fade into oblivion, diarioonline stressed that the Public Ministry may not have even sent a letter rogatory to authorities in Brazil.
“It is time for answers”, affirm the dead boy’s friends – who, but for an intervention by Rodrigo’s father Sérgio, would have held a ceremony yesterday in his memory.
An emotional Sérgio Lapa actually asked them not to, as he said he couldn’t bear the thought of anyone ‘celebrating’ the birthday of the child he will never see again.