Lawyer for alleged ‘aspirant serial killer’ tells court: “he’d never have done it”
One of the several images of João Carreira released as a result of his detention in February

Student who ‘planned massacre’ at Lisbon university absolved of terrorism charges

João Carreira sentenced to two years nine months in psychiatric unit

João Carreira, the young student accused of planning a terrorist attack at Lisbon Univeristy earlier this year has been absolved of terrorism charges, but condemned nonetheless for the crime of possession of a prohibited weapon.

Judge Nuno Costa passed the sentence of two years and nine months, to be spent in a psychiatric unit for the mentally unfit. It is unclear whether the time the young man has already spent in preventive custody, in the prison hospital of Caxias, will be deducted from the sentence.

But for his defence this was “a clear victory”, in that it became clear early on that the inference that this was a plan João Carreira fully meant to carry out was flawed.

Right from the outset, the young student, described as ‘on the spectrum’, was presented as ‘the first case of homegrown terrorism in Portugal’. The Public Ministry made much of the ‘tip off’ from the FBI; the incident likened to the kind of school massacres witnessed in the United States.

The truth, however, was that João Carreira was nothing more than a morbid fantasist. He did not belong to any kind of terrorist group, nor did his profile fit ‘the lone wolf’ description, the judge accepted.

In fact, he admitted under questioning that the whole sorry plan had been inspired by a video game.

Thus, in spite of the Public Ministry’s requests that Carreira be condemned to a minimum of three years, the final decision fell short of that – and the two charges of terrorism were dropped.

Defence counsel Jorge Pracana has said he still has to analyse the judgement, to see whether an appeal should be considered “This penalty is more than half of what is established for a crime of possession for a prohibited weapon”, he told reporters today.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com