Saturday, January 5, 2008

Portugal STINKS No:2

Portugal reeling over child sex abuse scandal:

The senior socialist MP Paulo Pedroso, number two in the party
and a former labour minister, was taken from parliament by police
and held for investigation three weeks ago on 15 counts of
suspected child-sex abuse.

The abuse accusations centre on Casa Pia, an austere building in
a leafy Lisbon neighbourhood, home to children without families,
or with parents too poor to care for them. Claims that boys
suffered decades of sexual abuse while the authorities did nothing
has thrown Portugal into deep shock.

Carlos Silvino, known as Bibi, was detained last autumn accused of
abusing children in his care and supplying them for sex to
socialites. Among those held on suspicion of abuse are Casa Pia's
former director, its doctor, Portugal's favourite television host,
a top comedian and a senior diplomat.

Casa Pia came under scrutiny 20 years ago when a young inmate died.
He apparently threw himself under a train after running from a car.
Officials found the home's doors open all night and youngsters in
a cruising area for male prostitutes.

Four children aged between eight and 12, missing for a fortnight,
were found in a luxury flat in nearby Cascais owned by a diplomat.
They said Mr Silvino had taken them there.

Last September, the mother of an inmate accused Mr Silvino of
sexually abusing her son. He was detained in November but insists
he is innocent. Last week he indicated he might turn state witness
and implicate influential "friends".

Pedro Strecht, a child psychologist, said "Many wouldn't speak,
for fear or shame. We are trained to recognise if children are
exaggerating or inventing stories. The testimonies we have heard
demonstrate the magnitude of the tragedy."

By Elizabeth Nash in Lisbon
16 June 2003

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