Romanian men await verdict.jpg

Romanian men await verdict

FIVE ROMANIAN men accused of a series of violent crimes in the eastern Algarve in 2006 and 2007 are due back in court on June 6 to hear the verdicts in their long-running trial.

The latest sessions against the men were heard in Faro court on May 7 and May 9. The public prosecutor has called for them to receive maximum sentences of up to 15 years in a case that has been running since March.

The defendants were accused of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, coercion and IT fraud, including the stealing of credit and debit cards from the victims and forcing them to reveal the PIN codes using methods of torture to do so.

The accusations refer to a series of attacks at isolated houses in Faro, Olhão and Loulé during 2006 and 2007 against British and Dutch citizens.

Video conferencing

The judicial court in Faro heard testimony on Wednesday, May 7 from two Dutch citizens via video conferencing links between the Algarve and Holland. Originally, testimonies had been expected to be heard in court on April 7 and 9 but this was postponed due to technical reasons involving the video conferencing equipment.

Johan Wolf and Wilhelmina Van Spencer gave evidence against the accused, who are alleged to have robbed the house they were staying at in Moncarapacho, Olhão, in January 2007.

The witnesses described the assailants as being four men wearing black clothes and balaclavas and confirmed that they had been threatened with death if they did not reveal the PIN numbers to their credit and debit cards.  Other items also stolen from Wilhelmina Van Spencer included money, a camera, and jewellery in the attack.

All the victims of the 11 attacks, allegedly committed by the gang of six men, were English and Dutch citizens in remote areas of the Eastern Algarve. The sixth man, Gheorge Ancuta, was never caught by the police and has been on the run since January 30, 2007.

The accused, Marius Lovin, 20, Alexandre Stoica, 29, Claudiu Vilcan, 29, Marius Lazer, 31 and Ion Radu, 31 have been held in preventative custody since their arrest on January 31, 2007. 

The lawyer for the defence claims that the men should be absolved of the accusations because none of the witnesses were able to identify the accused men and that there is not enough evidence to convict the men with certainty.

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