The Castelo Branco Court has handed down the maximum sentence of 25 years in prison to an electrical engineer accused of 16 crimes of forest fire, one of which was aggravated, which occurred between 2017 and 2020 in the Centre region.

In a judgment from the Judicial Court of the District ofCastelo Branco, the group of judges found the facts regarding the forest fires to be proven and sentenced the defendant to nine years' imprisonment for each of the 15 fires and an aggravated penalty of 11 years in prison for a fire that resulted in a victim.

The 39-year-old man, resident in the municipality of Sertã, in the district of Castelo Branco, had been in preventive detention since July 2021.

In the first trial session, the defendant assumed before the court that the facts contained in the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP)indictment are "entirely true", except for the fire recorded on June 22, 2017, about which he said "he does not remember ", although he admitted knowing the place where it took place.

According to the president of the panel of judges, João Mateus, the defendant "acted intentionally, knowingly and knowing that his conduct was punishable by law".

He also considered that the "degree of illegality was high" and that "the accused spread terror over the years" among the affected communities.

Judge João Mateus also pointed out that, according to the psychiatrist, the defendant "always had full capacity to self-determine and was never absent from reality".

The claim for civil compensation made by the Public Ministry and the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority, in the amount of 4.4 million euros, was considered valid.

This is the amount spent on the means that were involved in fighting the fires.

The engineer's lawyer has expressed his intention to appeal the sentence.