The former mayor of Pedrógão Grande Valdemar Alves was sentenced this Monday to a single sentence of seven years in prison by the Judicial Court of Leiria in the case related to the reconstruction of houses after the fires of June 2017.

Valdemar Alves had been prosecuted for 20 crimes of prevarication of a political office holder, 20 crimes of forgery of documents and 20 crimes of qualified fraud, five of which in the attempted form.

The former mayor of Pedrógão Grande was surprised this Monday with the prison sentence he was sentenced to and said he will appeal. “This was a surprise. I have no words for this. It’s too heavy,” he said, at the end of the trial.

The former mayor considered that “it will still be a very long journey” and that he will “talk with the lawyer”, but the judicial decision will be appealed.

The former councillor of the Chamber of Pedrógão Grande Bruno Gomes, who was accused of the same crimes, was sentenced this Monday to the single sentence of six years in prison.

Court sentenced 14 of 28 defendants

The Leiria Judicial Court also sentenced 14 defendants out of a total of 28, who were accused in the case related to the reconstruction of houses after the June 2017 fires in Pedrógão Grande.

In addition to former mayor of Pedrógão Grande Valdemar Alves and former councillor Bruno Gomes, sentenced to seven and six years in prison, respectively, the collective of judges sentenced 12 more defendants, these with suspended sentences.

The sentences were suspended for four years, subject to the payment of 100 euros per month, during that period, “on account of the conviction in the civil request”.

Valdemar Alves, Bruno Gomes and the remaining 11 defendants were also jointly and severally sentenced to pay civil claims made by Fundo Revita (109,383.30 euros), by the partnership União das Misericórdias Portuguesas/Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (185,233.33 euros) and by the Portuguese Red Cross (111,579.01 euros), totalling 406,195.54 euros.

The judge-president justified the acquittal of the 14 defendants because “it was not proved that they resided in the properties at the time of the fires, for health reasons”, nor that “they were aware and willing to commit the crime”.

The trial of the alleged irregularities in the reconstruction of houses in Pedrógão Grande after the fires of June 2017, with 28 defendants, began on October 26, 2020 and ended this Monday with the reading of the judgment in the Judicial Court of Leiria.

The fire that broke out on June 17, 2017 in Pedrógão Grande, district of Leiria, and which spread to neighbouring municipalities, caused 66 deaths and more than 250 injuries, seven of which were serious, and destroyed around 500 houses, 261 of which were permanent homes.