Gypsies, Peados and Thieves ... On We Go

Behind bars: the paedophile ring 'linked' to Maddie
5 September 2010
The Express on Sunday
James Murray

A GROUP of rich and powerful men in Portugal have been jailed for their involvement in a paedophile ring which some believe is linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

A former ambassador, a television presenter, a doctor and a lawyer were found guilty on Friday after an eight year investigation and a six-year trial which shook the country, with 32 men giving evidence of hundreds of crimes committed against them when they were children.

Members of the ring snatched children as they slept at the state-run Casa Pia orphanages in Lisbon and took them to grand houses to endure sickening abuse.

One of the abused boys, Pedro Namora, is now a lawyer and was a key witness in the case.

He wants Portuguese detectives to continue their probe as he believes the ring may be connected to the disappearance of Madeleine at the Praia da Luz resort on the Algarve in May 2007.

Speaking to the Sunday Express, Mr Namora said:
"During the summer children were taken to the summer homes of paedophiles on the Algarve. It was highly organised and involved a lot of planning and control.
"It is possible that those connected with the ring who have not been caught may be involved in Madeleine's disappearance.

I do think detectives should look at this possibility. No stone should be left unturned."
Although most of the abuse involved hundreds of boys, he said some girls also fell victim to the gang.

One man arrested in the case and later released without charge was said to have had a great interest in the ancient underground tunnels running under Praia da Luz.

There were emotional scenes at the Lisbon court house as two judges read out the punishment to the men, once regarded as being among the country's great and good.

Socialite Carlos Cruz, once Portugal's most popular television presenter, was sentenced to seven years in prison.

The 68-year-old father of two was found guilty of having sex with a 14-yearold and abusing another boy. Cruz said: "There is no proof of my guilt. This brings back memories of Portugal under dictatorship."

A former Portuguese ambassador to Unesco, Jorge Ritto, 74, was jailed for six years and doctor Ferreira Diniz got seven years.

Former Casa Pia ombudsman Manuel Abrantes should have been safeguarding the boys but he was also an abuser. He was sentenced to five years.

Casa Pia caretaker Carlos Silvino, 53, known as Bibi, used to pluck sleeping boys from their beds and take them away to abuse them or pass to others.

He confessed to 600 crimes and was given the longest sentence of 18 years.

Mr Namora, who was in court along with four other victims, said:
"These men have to be condemned. They committed barbaric crimes against humanity."
Catalina Pestana, who has run Casa Pia since the crimes were reported in 2002, said:
"The stories that I heard were the most terrible of my life.
"Now when a child accuses an adult, nobody will look with the same lack of attention that they did for many years."

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, said they had been closely following the Casa Pia case but did not have a lead linking Madeleine's disappearance to the paedophile ring.'These men committed barbaric crimes'

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