In the first session of the trial at the Lisbon Central Criminal Court, 19 year old João Carreira, agreed to give statements to the panel of judges chaired by Nuno Costa and answered questions, confirming the acquisition of the materials, his interest in mass murders and the depressed state he was in in February, when he was arrested by the Judiciary Police on the eve of the attack.

“Maybe go to the auditorium and throw Molotov cocktails, shoot arrows, stab people”, the defendant replied to the judge when asked about what he planned to do when he arrived at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, underlining as his motivations “depression, the fact of being in Lisbon and wanting the attention of people in the community”.

Confessing that he did not want to “hit anyone in particular”, the university student described the successive postponements of the execution of the attack – which had been planned for the 3rd, 4th, 7th and 9th until finally fixing on the 11th.

“Why didn't you go ahead?”, asked the judge and João Carreira replied: “Because I didn't want to. (…) I don't think I really wanted to do that. (…) I don't think I had the courage to kill a person”.

Interest in mass murders

The defendant stressed that his interest in the topic of mass murders began in 2018, acknowledged that he was aware that what he thought he was doing at the Faculty of Sciences “was wrong” and even admitted that he had thought about resorting to psychological help.

“I thought for a while, but then I gave up”, he explained, revealing that he had previously had medical follow-up because of autism, but that he did not contact the doctor because he had not spoken to him in a long time and because he thought he “could solve the problem alone”.

For about two hours, João Carreira answered all the questions from the collective of judges and the prosecutor and when he didn't know how to answer, he always said the same sentence: “I'm not sure”.

He spoke about his participation on different online platforms, such as Discord, Tumblr and Reddit, justifying his interest in violent content with the psychological aspect of the perpetrators of these acts.

It was through Tumblr that the young man said he met Micaela, a young woman he contacted from 2018 and that he got to know in person in October 2021, recognising a “platonic love” that never materialised in a relationship.

“Yes, I had a kind of attraction to her… I'd say it was platonic love. But her parents didn't like me when I went to her house”, he said, admitting that he was “a little depressed” by the situation and that he had come to study in Lisbon because of the interest he had in Micaela.

“Suicide pact”

However, he assured that he had not spoken with the young woman about the plan of the attack, but instead with another colleague at the Faculty of Science, Riya, with whom he communicated in English, even considering a “suicide pact” with the young woman of Nepalese nationality, who mentioned that she also did not seem satisfied at the University of Lisbon.

Asked about the way he considered the plan of attack he thought he would carry out, João Carreira expressed that he was now aware of what was at stake.

“I think it was bad that I thought of that. Now I feel better, I've been fine. I don't keep having [those thoughts], they're disappearing. My idea was a bad one, because it was wrong and because I don't think I would be able to kill anyone either. Morally, it is wrong to kill a person. I am aware of that today, yes,” he confessed.

João Carreira was accused in July by the Public Ministry (MP) of two crimes of terrorism, one of which was in the attempted form, and of the crime of possession of a prohibited weapon.

The case continues.