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Prosecutors demand immediate suspension of 18 police “to protect public safety”

In a shocking case denounced by the BBC over two years ago, Portugal’s public ministry is finally calling for the immediate suspension of 18 police officers from the same police station accused of racism and torture.

Diário de Notícias explains today that if the bid is successful, the police agents will have no recourse to appeal before their trial, and thus be prohibited from working in any capacity within the PSP force.

The Public ministry request follows allegations that racist victimisation persists within the service.

It is the prosecution’s belief that the accused pose a danger to public safety and tranquility, says DN.

The tragedy of this case is that it has taken so long to be aired in any kind of court room (click here).

Even after the damning allegations made by the BBC, the agents involved – the entire crew based at the time in Alfragide, in the suburbs of Lisbon – continued at their posts with so-called internal inquiries ruling there was no case to answer.

Since that time, many have transferred elsewhere, but four are believed to remain at Alfragide PSP station.

Says DN, the public ministry “is convinced the agents’ behaviour was not an isolated incident”.

The risk of “continued behaviour like that described in the current charges” persists, with at least three inquiries ongoing in which similar behaviour is described as having directly affected “one or more of the witnesses in this case”.

The magistrate heading the Public Ministry in Amadora court “believes suspension from duty is the only bail measure that guarantees necessity, adequacy and proportionality” in face of the charges which point to a “serious violation of the (accused men and women’s) inherent duty… implying a loss of the necessary confidence in the exercise of their functions”.

DN adds that it asked back in July to consult all the disciplinary processes relating to this case, but has not been given access.

The paper maintains the paperwork should all be in the public domain. The PSP see otherwise.

The only official position that the PSP has taken in relation to the accused agents is to invoke the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise in court, says DN.

For a full picture of what this case centres on, see the BBC’s dismal report “They hate black people” (click here).

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