Thousands of people are pushing for “Justice for Rodrigo Lapa”, the Algarve teen whose battered body was found on scrubland near his Portimão home in February – presumably killed by his absconded Brazilian stepfather.
They refuse to accept that “an individual who has committed a crime in Portugal is able to hide under the flag of another nationality, in the shelter of agreements between countries”.
Thus a petition to change the extradition laws between Portugal and Brazil is underway, and everyone is urged to sign it.
This far, 2,145 people have signed. For the matter to be discussed in parliament, petition organisers need another 1,860 people to come on board.
But that is not the only change the dead boy’s friends want to see.
The text of the petition – which follows stories claiming locals are upset at the lack of progress by the authorities in bringing the killer to justice – says the case “should also serve as an example” to show how slowly Portugal and Brazil appear to work together.
“In future there should be a much more rapid form of communication,” says the text.
“Proceedings on how competent entities are alerted need to be revised so that cases like this do not happen again.”
National media both here and in Brazil has attested to the fact that Rodrigo’s stepfather Joaquim Lara Pinto flew back to his home country on the day Rodrigo’s mother reported her son missing – and that due to the lack of a valid extradition agreement between Portugal and Brazil, Pinto may never return to face Portuguese justice.
But that does not mean that he cannot be tried in Brazil – though authorities here have still not confirmed whether they have sent off the necessary paperwork to set this in motion.
Complementary exams ordered as a result of Rodrigo’s autopsy are due any day now, and these should determine the next steps to be taken.
Judicial police have told the Resident that from an investigatory point of view, the case is complete.
“All that remains now is for the Public Ministry to act on our findings,” a source told us.
But, in the meantime, anyone keen to sign the petition will find it on the Petição Pública site under “Justiça por Rodrigo Lapa” (http://peticaopublica.com/pview.aspx?pi=PT80310).
Rodrigo’s body was found on March 2. The 15-year-old’s hands had been tied behind his back with electrical wire, there was a rope round his neck and his head showed multiple injuries.