Rodrigo murder inquiry: Police finally reveal plans to quiz ‘stepfather’ in Brazil

After nine perplexing months in which nothing seemed to be moving forwards, PJ police have revealed moves are underway for a team to travel to Brazil and finally interview the principal suspect in the inquiry into the brutal murder earlier this year of Portimão schoolboy Rodrigo Lapa.

It is news that has brought almost audible sighs of relief over social media where Rodrigo’s friends have been bolstered by thousands pushing for justice in the case that sent shockwaves across the country (click here).

Jornal do Algarve broke the story on Friday, saying that a source within the directorship of the southern branch of the PJ had informed them that a letter rogatory has been sent to authorities in Brazil, and that investigators now are simply waiting for the green-light to travel over there.

Follow-up stories in national media suggest the trip “could even happen before the end of the year”.

The work of the PJ will be ‘accompanied’ by counterparts in Brazil explains tabloid Correio da Manhã, given that despite the closeness of the two countries there is no extradition agreement in place.

Meantime, Rodrigo’s former stepfather Joaquim Lara Pinto is being represented by a crack criminal lawyer in his family’s home district of Cuiabá in Brazil who insists on his client’s innocence.

Brazilian authorities have confirmed, says CM, that Pinto has presented himself before Federal Police where he made a statement and surrendered his passport.

Pinto’s statement has already been sent to Portugal via Interpol, and police here will have formulated their rogatory letter accordingly.

CM reports that they have listed various ‘diligences’ that they mean to carry out, with emphasis on Pinto’s interrogation.

This case has been particularly frustrating for the father and friends of Rodrigo Lapa – all of whom were well aware of the troubled home life he led under the roof of his mother Célia Barreto in the area of Malheiro, on the outskirts of Portimão.

Célia has since been seen to change her story multiple times (click here), and local feeling has always been that police had ample opportunity to charge her in relation to her son’s desperate end.

One of the many Algarvians marked by this case is Portimão mother-of-two Inês Louzeiro, whose daughter was one of Rodrigo’s closest friends, and who organised the protest in September outside Portimão’s public ministry building, demanding justice be seen to be done (click here).

“We don’t want fame”, she stressed in a message to the Resident last week. “But we will never give up. Rodrigo remains in the hearts of all of us who knew him – and many of those who didn’t – and no one will ever be able to take him from there”.

Louzeiro said she is in regular contact with one of the detectives involved in this investigation, and has always meant to take her call for justice “to the ultimate consequences”.

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