Police officers deny attacking black youths

in World · 21-06-2018 13:55:00 · 0 Comments

Five of the 17 police officers standing trial at a Sintra Court, have denied charges of racism and assault.

The officers were charged back in 2015 after arresting five black youths after they reportedly tried to invade a police station to free a friend who had been arrested earlier, in the problematic neighbourhood of Cova da Moura.
The five detainees were later taken to a local hospital having suffered physical injuries. Police say the injuries were only minor and resulted from the youths resisting arrest.
The charges against police include false testimony, forging of evidence, torture and other cruel acts deemed degrading and inhumane.
Addressing the court on Tuesday, one of the police officers charged denied the accusations in front of the panel of judges, saying he was married to a Cape Verdean woman with whom he had two children. He added that charges of racism and assault levelled at him had caused him great emotional and psychological harm, and had only not applied for sick leave as that would effectively be “a death sentence.”
Other police officers described how 15 to 20 youths attacked the police station, throwing stones while some of them managed to break through a police barrier containing three officers.
But prosecutors argue that police at the Alfragide station acted consciously as they perpetrated a series of violent and defamatory acts.
Following the unsavoury incidents of three years ago, the Left Bloc tabled a proposal to declare racism a crime, following claims of police brutality in the Cova da Moura neighbourhood whose inhabitants are mostly black.
An independent organisation with consultancy powers at the UN has also since alleged that 40 youths died between 2000 and 2010 during police action in Portugal.
At the time, in a statement issued by the Left Bloc, the party said it was commonplace “to hear in these neighbourhoods that blacks are to be eliminated.”
The party added that “studies, including a recent UN report, show that communities of African origin have limited access to education and public services” and that these “communities are also under-represented.”
The Left Bloc also called for tighter evaluation of police forces who they said should be subjected to anti-racist training on the ground, a feature which the party says should form part of anti-racism laws.
Jakilson Pereira, representing Plataforma Gueto, lamented the problems between communities and the police, and accused law enforcement of exhibiting what he termed “generalised violent behaviour.”
He argued that “while the community does not want to stand in the way of police work, it demands respect, and called on society to take note that the rule of law is often suspended in these areas.”
Mamdou Ba, leader of SOS Racismo, revealed that “police violence is a structural issue and most, if not all state institutions, are infected by racism”.
The trial meanwhile continues, with the five youths also due to be heard by prosecutors and police defence lawyers.


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