Two hands on jail iron bars

The three GNR officers who worked at the Vila Nova de Milfontes GNR territorial post and who were convicted in two cases in 2020 and 2023 of assaulting immigrants, saw their final sentences set this Friday at between four years and two months and eight years and eight months in prison.

The first case involved assaults on immigrants involved in a disagreement in a restaurant in 2018. The soldiers, friends of the owner, went to their house and assaulted them. Shortly after the soldiers were arrested, the Polícia Judiciária discovered videos and photos on their cell phones of them humiliating and assaulting immigrants, which led to the second case. They were charged with housebreaking, aggravated battery, kidnapping and abuse of power.

Ruben Candeias had been sentenced to four years in prison in the first case, in 2020, and six years in the second, when the sum of the two sentences was reduced to four years and eight months by the Évora Court of Appeal. Now he has been given a single sentence of eight years and eight months in prison in a hearing scheduled for that purpose. On September 27 last year, he was expelled from the GNR. João Lopes, sentenced to five years suspended in one case and four years and two months in another, has now been sentenced to eight years and seven months in prison.

Finally, Nelson Lima, who was also convicted in both cases, now receives a single sentence of four years and two months, suspended on condition that he pays compensation to the victims within the next 90 days.

When reading out the judgment, the presiding judge was very harsh on the three guards. “They have personalities with criminal tendencies,” said magistrate Vítor Maneta, addressing Ruben Candeias and João Lopes, accusing them of “playing a risky card, given the convictions in the first case”. “For what they’ve done, the only alternative is a prison sentence,” he said.

As for Nelson Lima, the judge said he was “astonished” that he was still “in the GNR”. You can’t be a GNR officer, because you’re unfit and untrustworthy,” he concluded. Ruben Candeias and João Miguel Lopes are at liberty pending the final judgment of yesterday’s case.

One serving time

Of the nine defendants in the two cases, the three police officers whose sentences have now been combined are the only repeat offenders in both cases. Another policeman, André Ribeiro, was sentenced in 2020 to six years in prison, a sentence he is still serving.

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