Nine 'Georgian Mafia' convicts released

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 23-12-2019 15:05:00 · 0 Comments

Nine defendants of the 'Georgian mafia', sentenced in November this year in Lisbon to sentences of up to 13 years in prison for dozens of home robberies in Portugal, have been released after a Supreme Court decision.

The Supreme Court of Justice (STJ) decision, dated 19 December, to which Lusa had access on Monday, follows a request for immediate release ('habeas corpus') filed by the law firm Melo Alves, which defends two of the defendants, for exceeding the maximum period of pre-trial detention.

The public prosecutor's office initially charged 36 defendants with belonging to a criminal structure which, through small cells, has carried out over 370 robberies in Portugal in recent years. After the investigation, the defendants were not indicted (brought to trial) by criminal association and, at the beginning of the trial, on 30 May, the Central Criminal Court of Lisbon separated 12 of them.

In the decision of 29 November, the collective of judges - Luís Ribeiro (president), Marisa Arnedo and João Claudino - sentenced 17 of the 24 defendants to effective sentences between three and 13 years, for dozens of thefts and forgery of a document, but acquitted them of the crime of laundering.

The presiding judge Luís Ribeiro explained that it was the crimes of criminal association and money laundering that determined the extension of periods of pre-trial detention at various stages of the process, under the declared exceptional complexity.

Regarding eight of the defendants convicted of theft but also for forgery of a document, whose maximum period of pre-trial detention is three years and four months, given that the exceptional complexity has been declared, this period has not yet expired, which is why these eight defendants will remain in pre-trial detention.

The collective of judges applied to the 17 defendants the accessory penalty of expulsion from the national territory for five years.

On 21 February this year, the Central Criminal Investigation Court (TCIC) issued a new preliminary decision to pronounce (bring to trial) the defendants for the facts described in the indictment but did not pronounce them for criminal association, as there was no evidence of a mounting criminal structure.

On 1 October, the Lisbon Court of Appeal upheld an appeal from the public prosecutor's office considering that the defendants must also be tried by criminal association because there is a criminal structure, but so far TCIC has not issued any decision.

As the MP's appeal had no suspensory effect, the trial began on 30 May and the decision was read on 29 November.

Most of the defendants, in this case, came from the cities of Tbilisi and Kutaisi, both located in the Republic of Georgia.

The prosecutor's indictment stated that Portugal suffered strong migratory pressure from the post-Soviet states, explaining that accompanying those seeking a better life also came citizens who were already in the countries of origin linked to organised crime.

While some of these elements chose other European Union countries, such as Italy or Greece, others came to national territory, where they remain, stably or intermittently, to commit crimes, especially burglary.


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