Vilamoura nightclub boss arrested

TWENTY OFFICERS stormed the Klube-K and Kasablanca nightspots in Vilamoura, at around midnight on the night of August 25, and arrested Paulo Dâmaso, managing director of Grupo K, which owns these establishments. Dâmaso was handcuffed and led out by officers from the Autoridade para a Segurança Alimentar e Económica (ASAE), a government inspectorate with police powers that control adherence to food hygiene and economic legislation.

Both establishments were immediately closed down to the bewilderment of clubbers, who were queuing to enter. Shortly afterwards, according to TV news reports, a cameraman from Portuguese station SIC, who was filming the spectacle, was allegedly beaten up, prompting the GNR to be called. The controversial open-air nightclub and restaurant have recently been at the centre of a bitter dispute with local residents over alleged noise pollution.

Officers from ASAE had already visited the premises on Wednesday of last week and ordered that the establishments be shut down on the grounds of licensing irregularities and contravention of hygiene regulations. However, the owners continued to open the two establishments, an action which led to the arrest of Paulo Dâmaso at the weekend for disobeying the closure order.

According to Paulo Dâmaso, who complained at being treated “like a dangerous criminal”, he had done nothing wrong by continuing to open Klube-K and Kasablanca, as he explained that lawyers for Grupo K had presented a formal request to Loulé court for the measure to be suspended, citing that the ASAE inspection had not been carried out according to the law. “I understood that by our lawyers formally presenting this request in Loulé court on Thursday that it immediately served to suspend the closure order pending investigation,” Paulo Dãmaso said.

Meanwhile, António Nunes, president of ASAE, justified the actions of his officers on Friday night as necessary “in order to uphold the law and to punish a crime of disobedience”. He also said that his team had identified “a serious lack of hygiene and sanitary conditions, and irregularities with regard to the licensing of the establishments”. He also confirmed that Loulé court had not communicated any suspension of the closure order issued by ASAE.

According to a TV news report on SIC television, ASAE inspectors allegedly found that rubbish was being thrown through a window to a large open rubbish receptacle in the back-yard, a situation which they believe represented a risk to public health.

Grupo K is reported to be furious that Klube-K and Kasablanca were closed down the day before the summer festival was due to be held at the nightspots, an event which apparently can attract as many as 9,000 people. “This puts the group’s 300 workers at risk,” said Dâmaso.

Following a court judgement after his arrest, Paulo Dâmaso was charged and ordered not to leave his home without prior permission from the police. In order for Klube-K and Kasablanca to re-open, any hygiene issues must be resolved and licensing paperwork brought to order. The two establishments must then be the subject of a new inspection by ASAE.

It seems it was not only ASAE that had been attempting to close down these Vilamoura nightspots. According to earlier newspaper reports, the GNR identified licence irregularities on July 24 and attempted to close the club on August 4, on the grounds of noise regulations being broken. But again, at this time, lawyers for Grupo K contested the orders, sending a letter of complaint to the Civil Governor of Faro.  

The Resident’s Caroline Cunha contacted Sally Sykes, who led the petition to have Klube-K closed on the grounds of noise pollution. Her reaction to the establishments being shut down was: “It is wonderful, such a relief! Finally all my efforts have amounted to something. Finally I was able to sleep on Friday and Saturday night. However, I am disappointed that Klube-K and Kasablanca were not closed down due to their breach of noise regulations, but rather on hygiene failings and licensing irregularities. I am incredulous that Loulé Câmara failed to act throughout the month of August, despite the level of complaints. It received a letter from the Ministry of the Environment on June 27, pointing out the noise legislation Klube-K must adhere to, of which I have copies. Public health should be the câmara’s prime concern, not the activities of businesses that are not complying with the law.”

Sally is not convinced that her nightmare, and that of other local residents and businesses in the vicinity of the nightspots, is over. “I am fearful that, due to Loulé Câmara not enforcing the noise legislation, once the owners of Klube-K and Kasablanca resolve any hygiene and sanitation issues and apply for the appropriate licences, the clubs could open again and the noise could be just as loud,” she said.

The Resident contacted Loulé Câmara and, in the absence of the President, Seruca Emídio, who is on holiday, spoke to vice-president, José Graça, to ascertain why the noise regulations are allegedly not being enforced by Loulé Câmara. “Loulé Câmara has followed the legal requirements with regard to the noise law. It contacted the Direcção Geral de Economia, an accredited entity to carry out an acoustic assessment at Klube-K on July 20, and the report concluded that everything was in order and the nightclub could open. I cannot comment on their work,” he said. When asked why Loulé Câmara did not acknowledge a petition signed by 120 people living in the vicinity of Klube-K, complaining about noise from the nightclub, Graça commented: “This I can look into.”

Despite Klube-K and Kasablanca being shutdown at the weekend, Sally Sykes is continuing to fight for damages and a long term solution. “My application to the European Court of Human Rights to investigate this case was accepted last week and I am still planning to go ahead with this, despite the latest development,” she told The Resident.