João Rendeiro when he was still evading jail. It transpires that his lawyer Abel Marques is also secretary general of ANTRAL, the taxi drivers union whose president is an official suspect in investigations into the sale of works of art which had been impounded by the State to ensure Mr Rendeiro did not get rid of his assets

Rendeiro’s lawyer in Portugal pondering taking death to Court of Human Rights

How could he have ‘committed suicide’ in overcrowded cell?

João Rendeiro’s lawyer in Portugal has intimated that he is considering a complaint to the Court of Human Rights.

Abel Marques addresses the elephant in the room: 69-year-old Mr Rendeiro was sharing a cell with 50 other serial offenders.

Westville Jail isn’t like anything known to Portugal. It has more than 14,000 inmates. That is more than all the inmates in all the jails in Portugal (and these too are overcrowded).

The cell in which Mr Rendeiro is understood to have taken his own life is described as 80 sq metres.

How could he have managed to ‘commit suicide’ sharing a space with so many people?

According to some reports, Westville is notorious for prisoners serving life terms for all kinds of violent crime. Documentaries to which Portuguese media has had access claim jail is known for auctions involving newly arrived prisoners. Protection is paid “with money or with sexual favours, and João Rendeiro was always a target, as can be proved from the threats he received”, said Correio da Manhã.

Mr Marques will be meeting shortly with Mr Rendeiro’s family. He has no children, thus this possibly means his wife Maria de Jesus, who is under house arrest. The plan will be “to try and work out the best strategy”, says Expresso.

The paper says it knows the defence was “not satisfied with the excessive delay in the extradition process” – although this was always predicted.

It also wants to know why Mr Rendeiro was held in Westville prison for so long.

“For South African authorities, Rendeiro wasn’t a prisoner, but someone who should be in their care”, a source ‘close to the case’ has told Expresso.

Today’s drama has seen new information dripping through all day.

It now seems that June Marks, Mr Rendeiro’s defence lawyer in South Africa, had withdrawn from the case – because João Rendeiro had no money with which to retain her services.

As a result of Ms Marks’ decision, the former banker, condemned for fraud, mismanagement and corruption, was due to appear in court today for a replacement lawyer to be assigned to his case.

[email protected]