A huge wave of controversy has surfaced following numerous accounts that a horse was “barbarically beaten to death” by gypsies at a camp near Lagos’ PSP police station on Wednesday (June 10).
PSP police have denied the claims, saying people have “overreacted” and that the horse was already at death’s door after being hit by a car days before.
No matter what condition the horse was in, Welshman Barry Harrison says there is “no excuse” for what he saw near the Varandas de São João apartments where he is staying for a week-long holiday with his wife.
“The horse’s legs weren’t working, yet the gypsies were trying to get the animal to stand up,” he told the Resident.
“After many minutes of using poles to try to yank it up, the horse finally stood up but quickly fell over again. That’s when the beating started,” the tourist told us, saying that he and his wife were “horrified” by what they saw.
“Even the children were hitting the horse. It was barbaric. I felt I was in a third-world country,” Harrison added.
The scene was witnessed by another local resident, who reported it to the PSP nearby.
The woman told Harrison “they laughed in her face and told her there was nothing they could do about it”, the Welsh holidaymaker said.
Saying his holiday was “ruined”, Harrison added that he “won’t be visiting Portugal again”.
“I was a policeman in Wales for 30 years and I can’t believe what I saw here.”
The Resident has since received a handwritten petition from local residents who complain about previous problems caused by the nearby gypsy community and ask the council to intervene.
They say they live with a “constant feeling of insecurity due to insults, threats and thefts”, and say it was not the first time they have witnessed the gypsies being cruel to animals.
“People have overreacted”
Lagos’ PSP police tell another story however.
“People have overreacted. The horse was hit by a car a few days earlier and apparently did not recover,” chief Domingos told the Resident.
When we spoke, the horse’s body was still understood to be at the gypsy camp but chief Domingos denied this, and said the carcass had already been removed.
“All of the relevant authorities took note of the situation, but all of this talk of the horse having been beaten is nothing more than rumours,” he said.
Nonetheless, Lieutenant-Colonel José Palhau from the GNR police in Faro confirmed the case is being investigated by the police force’s environmental division (SEPNA) in Portimão.
By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]