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Monte Tree Disaster Hearing Rescheduled

The instructive debate on the Monte tree disaster, that killed 13 people and injured 49, originally scheduled for Monday the 14th of September has been postponed until October.  However, on Monday, the Court will listen to a witness and an expert statement, but the instructional debate, which is open to the public will now take place at 9.30 am on the 16th of October.

Judge Susana Mão de Ferro, visited the scene of the tragedy where on the 15th of August 2017, a large 29.8 m high, 10.4 tonne, 200-year-old Oak tree, collapsed and fell on the crowd as they watched the Largo da Fonte procession on Assumption Day of Nossa Senhora, (Dia de Nossa Senhora do Monte), the patron saint of the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

The official visit lasted for an hour and was attended by lawyers, employees of the Funchal Court and the Funchal City Council, including the person responsible for the municipality’s gardens in the area and who is accused of negligent homicide in this case. During the visit, a team from the Rapid Intervention Brigade of the Public Security Police kept the area sealed at the courts request.

The Deputy Mayor of the Municipality, Idalina Perestrelo, who is responsible for the areas of Urban Environment, Green and Public Spaces, and the head of the Division of Gardens and Green Spaces of the Chamber of Funchal, Francisco Andrade, are both accused of 13 crimes of negligent homicide and 24 crimes of offense against involuntary or negligent physical integrity.

Both defendants asked for instruction because they felt that they should not be prosecuted.

During the investigation phase, the then Mayor of the municipality of Funchal, Paulo Cafôfo, was also accused, but the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not pursue this accusation as the Mayor had delegated the competences of these spaces to other elements of the team.

However, some of the victims’ relatives did not agree with the decision and requested that Paulo Cafôfo also respond to this process; their requests were rejected by the investigating judge.

At the end of this phase, the judge will decide whether to close the case or whether it will go to trial.

Samantha Gannon

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