“We have no doubt that it was as the prosecution witnesses said,” the public prosecutor in charge of the case said at Faro Court during closing arguments, arguing that some statements by defence witnesses “do not make sense” and, in his view, “do not correspond to the truth”.
The session of the trial was marked by the testimony of Donald Fernandes’ girlfriend, Soukayana El Khayati, who described in court details of the troubled relationship she had with one of the alleged victims and episodes of violence that occurred at the time of the facts.
During the morning, the court heard a PSP officer who was part of the team that, on 5 June, 2019, went to the shopping centre where one of the alleged victims called for help through a message written on a napkin.
According to Patrícia Fidalgo, Donald “was always aggressive” and the woman “very frightened”, being that she “hardly spoke”, coming later, at the police station, to “confirm that she was with him against her will and that she wanted them to help her”.
The fact that some details of the approach described by the officer did not coincide with the testimony given earlier by a defence witness Donald’s lawyer at the time, who was on the scene on the day of the police intervention - led the defence to make a request for a confrontation, which was refused by the court.
Donald Fernandes, 36, is accused of 14 crimes, including the kidnapping of Layla da Silva and Lauren Caton, on separate days in May 2019, women who he allegedly raped, assaulted and threatened with death.
In court, the prosecutor was “impressed” by the “coincidences” between Soukayna’s statements and those of the accused and other defence witnesses, calling his testimony “brilliant” because it managed to “coincide in almost everything” with what had already been described in court.
“The witness [Soukayana El Khayati] even managed something more curious: at the time when the facts happened, was the time when she was angry with Donald,” he mentioned, alluding to the fact that the woman, who is still in a relationship with the accused, mentioned that they were separated between the end of April and the end of June 2019, the period when the alleged crimes took place.
The defence lawyer argued that Donald Fernandes “can only be acquitted” because he considers that there is no evidence of the abductions or rapes, criticising the fact that the alleged victims were only heard for future memory, without an adversarial hearing by the defence.
The two alleged victims never appeared in court and their whereabouts are unknown.
The accused, in pre-trial detention since 9 January 2020, denied in court all the accusations, suggesting that both may have conspired to incriminate him.