Prédio Coutinho

Prédio Coutinho siege: court sides with traumatised residents

The siege of nine frail pensioners who have been refusing to leave apartments earmarked for demolition for over a week has been halted today by order of Braga’s fiscal and administrative court.

Says lawyer Magalhães Sant’ana representing a small number of elderly residents left in Viana do Castelo’s now notorious ‘Prédio Coutinho’, supplies of water, electricity and gas can now be reconnected, along with the ability of his clients to come and go without being accosted/ threatened or heckled by authorities so keen to get them out.

Food also, which had been ‘refused entry’ – and which has only reached people inside through the use of a rope dropped from open windows – must now be freely allowed back in.

Judges ruled in favour of Sant’ana’s bid for an embargo, arguing that the way in which his clients were being treated went against their rights and liberties.

Environmental entity ‘VianaPolis’ which compulsorily purchased the building with a view to demolition says it is going to contest the decision.

This is a ‘local issue’ in the northern part of the country that has shocked the nation for the perceived cruelty with which the last battling residents have been treated (click here).

Leader writers through the weekend bemoaned the state of democracy in a country that could treat its citizens in such a way

Teams of workmen who were contracted to start demolishing apartments – a number of them right alongside those still inhabited – have been called off.

Said lawyer Francisco Vellozo Ferreira representing clients in the building: “It’s evident that demolition cannot proceed with people living inside”.

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