Skinhead trial begins

THE TRIAL of 36 skinhead members of illegal extreme far right political groups has begun at a Lisbon court at Monsanto.

The neo-Nazis are being tried for various crimes, including inciting racial hatred, storing arms caches and defacing grave stones at a Jewish cemetery after the Polícia Judiciária carried out an operation in April last year.

The defendant attracting the most media attention is Hammerskin Portugal leader Mário Machado, a personal friend of José Pinto Coelho, the President of the far-right Partido Nacional Renovador (PNR), whose party last year put up posters in Lisbon suggesting that immigrants should return home.

The PNR is accusing the police and legal authorities of “suppressing freedom of conscience”

and “political persecution”.

After being appointed Portuguese State Prosecutor to the case, Cândida Vilar has received several death threats from sympathisers and arrived at the court house accompanied by several PSP personal bodyguards.

Of the 36, 34 of the defendants are on bail, while Mário Machado has been in police custody in prison since the operation. A leading light in the PNR, Vasco Leitão, is under house arrest with an electronic tag controlling his movements.

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