More than three hundred people recently took part in a tribute to Joana, the eight-year-old girl who disappeared in the village of Figueira in Portimão one month ago.
Police are still searching for the body of the girl, who is now presumed to be dead. They have arrested her mother and uncle after uncovering evidence which suggests to authorities that Joana suffered a long period of abuse before her death.
Parish priest, Father Domingos Costa, decided to hold a candlelit service at Mexilhoeira Grande, in a bid to “soothe the furore that the case has created”. Father Costa called for greater vigilance about the mistreatment of children and described the world as “marked by darkness due to collective negligence”. He said that Joana’s ‘disappearance’ was everybody’s business. “Everyone who knew her says that she was a child, old beyond her age – quiet, reserved and sad. We cannot merely cross our arms in the face of such injustice. If we do so, then other ‘Joanas’ will continue to live and die in vain,” he said. Police believe that the girl’s uncle, João Cipriano, a man with a criminal background, who is described as ‘cold’, by people who knew him, apparently holds the key to the discovery of Joana’s body. Police have led him to the area surrounding the little girl’s house in the hope that Cipriano will reveal the scene of the crime, but on the day of going to press, the police were still no nearer to uncovering her body.