Portugal rallies to defence of family “brutally attacked” by PSP after Benfica game

The wave of public support for the father and grandfather ‘punched and bludgeoned on camera’ by an armed PSP commander in full view of two traumatised children after Sunday’s Benfica championship victory in Guimarães knows almost no bounds – with national media aflame over the incident.

The “encarnados” club – so-called because of its red colours – has invited the children of the attacked men to receive its latest trophy, and further extended an invitation to the whole family to Benfica’s next game on Saturday against Marítimo.

As disciplinary inquiries into the actions of ‘comandante’ Filipe Silva are opened by the PSP and Public Ministry, lawyer Sónia Carneiro has confirmed that 43-year-old José Magalhães and his 70-year-old father will be taking legal action against Silva alleging “criminal offences to their physical integrity”.

Leader writers have had a field day over the incident that was almost completely caught by TV cameras, and prompted scenes of chaos in Lisbon after fans celebrating the football victory saw the violence on a massive screen set up in Marquês de Pombal square and went on the rampage.

There is only slight doubt as to what Magalhães may have done to provoke Silva’s reaction.

According to newspapers, Silva claims the father-of-two spat in his face. This has been denied not only by Magalhães, but by eye-witnesses.

Magalhães did raise his hands, that can be seen clearly – but he has explained that this was due to his exasperation over the way Silva was reacting.

As Portugal’s media has been commenting, even if Magalhães had spat in the agent’s face, would this justify the use of such force in front of two young children and their elderly grandfather?

As the nation saw to its horror on Monday morning, Silva not only appears to have launched a completely disproportionate attack on the father, but he also savagely laid into the 70-year-old grandfather for simply trying to stop Silva hitting his son any further.

Silva can be seen quite clearly punching Magalhães senior with force twice in the head before whipping out his police baton and returning to beat a prone Magalhães junior.

Magalhães senior is pushed out of the frame as other agents get involved.

The children, visibly traumatised, are held back by police in full riot gear.

On Tuesday, an eye witness account added further pathos to the story, saying it was “very upsetting to see the little boy, urinating in panic and screaming that his father had not done anything while the father was begging to be allowed to talk to his children”.

Marta Santos Silva added that as far as she had been aware from her position nearby, the family had been talking to commander Silva in a “cordial tone” before the sudden outbreak of violence.

The children are reported to have been too upset to go to school on Monday and were due to be seen by a psychologist today (Tuesday May 19).

As to the ‘reason’ for Silva’s attack, it all centered on the fact that José Magalhães had been worried about his children, aged nine and 13, in the post-game confusion.

Talking to Jornal Sol, he said the stadium had been in lockdown, with fans left waiting over three-quarters of an hour to be let out.

His children “were panicking”. “I had to get them out. We were suffocating in there,” he told reporters.

But as the businessman managed to find an exit from the stadium, he was approached by Silva who is understood to have asked him why he had used the “closed to the public” gateway.

The “conversation” took a turn for the worse when Silva apparently demanded to know why Magalhães had taken his children to the match in the first place.

The father claims he said he could take his children wherever he wanted and this attitude appears to have prompted the attack.

Magalhães was then arrested and held for some hours in Guimarães police station.

When he was finally released, he showed his bruises to journalists who had been waiting outside for news.

This shocking case follows a BBC report which is still causing notoriety in UK and centres on allegations of police brutality and racism in Portugal.

Entitled “They hate black people”, the report centres on a Lisbon community known as Cova da Moura.

Intriguingly, Silva’s posting before Guimarães was not far from Cova da Moura. As Diário de Notícias writes, Silva has a reputation in the PSP for being a “tough guy”.

As the disciplinary inquiries get underway, Silva is reported to remain at his post, and “is still armed” with his service revolver and police baton.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]

Photo: Benfica fans clash with riot police during celebrations at the Marquês de Pombal square in Lisbon, after the club won the Portuguese First League Championship after their draw against Vitória de Guimarães on May 17