Mayor of Borba will be tried for 5 counts of murder

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Rui Minderico / Lusa

Mayor António Anselmo will be tried for five counts of murder in the case of the landslide in the quarry that dragged Municipal Road 255, on November 19, 2018.

The mayor of Borba, Antonio Anselmo, goes to trial by five crimes of homicide of which he was accused, due to the collapse of municipal road 255 in 2018, is read in the decision instructing the case.

According to the summary of the decision, published on Monday on the website of the Judicial Court of the District of Évora and consulted by Lusa, the criminal investigation judge decided to “pronounce for all the crimes” that were charged to them “the defendants António José Lopes Anselmo ”, mayor of Borba, and the company “ALA de Almeida Limitada”.

Following the “analysis of the evidentiary elements together in the investigation and in the instruction”, it was also decided to “pronounce in part” the then vice-president of the Borba Chamber, Joaquim dos Santos Paulo Espanhol, for the crimes that were imputed to him, for which, instead of five, he goes to trial for three counts of murder by omission.

Employees of the General Directorate of Energy and Geology (DGEG) Bernardino Miguel Marmelada Piteira and José Carlos Silva Pereira will also be judged, each for two crimes of homicide by omission, according to the summary of the preliminary ruling.

Defendant Paulo Jorge Nunes Alves, technical manager of the company ALA de Almeida, with a license to operate the quarry where the collapse occurred, were charged with two crimes of aggravated violation of safety rules and eight crimes of violation of safety rules.

The criminal investigation judge also decided “not pronouncing all crimes” who were charged with two of the eight defendants, more precisely João Filipe Gonçalves de Jesus, former regional director of the Alentejo Economy, and Maria João Raposo da Silva Figueira, DGEG employee.

According to the document, judge Marcos Ramos, who signed the preliminary ruling on June 9, opted for “not to pronounce the mentioned defendants of the remaining crimes charged in the public indictment”.

“All defendants pronounced are subject to the measure of coercion of the Term of Identity and Residence”, is also mentioned in the summary of the decision that concludes the investigative phase of the process.

After this becomes final, “the records will be sent to the Central Civil and Criminal Court of Évora for judgment”, as can be read in the document.

Lusa tried to get reactions from the mayors of Borba, but António Anselmo and Joaquim Espanhol, who appears only as councilor on the municipality’s website, did not answer the phone calls.

The facts described in the indictment refer to the southwest slope slide the Pedreira Olival Grande São Sebastião, whose exploration license belongs to the ALA de Almeida Limitada, and the dragging of the Municipal Road (EM) 255, which occurred on November 19, 2018, which caused five deaths.

In February last year, the Public Ministry announced that it had accusation deducted against eight defendants, including a legal person, for various crimes of homicide and violation of security rules, “in the context of the investigation initiated with a view to investigating the circumstances surrounding the collapse” of the EM255.

The fact-finding phase of the case, requested by five of the eight defendants, began on December 3 of last year, and has now ended with the judge’s decision.

On the afternoon of November 19, 2018, a section of about 100 meters from the EM255, between Borba and Vila Viçosa, collapsed due to the slide of a large volume of rocks, marble blocks and earth into the quarries.

The accident caused the death of two workers of a marble extraction company in the quarry that was active and three other men, occupants of two motor vehicles that followed the stretch of road and fell into the quarry’s water level without any activity.

On the sidelines of the judicial process, the 19 family members and heirs of the victims of the collapse received compensation from the State, in a global amount of about 1.6 million euros, whose transfer orders were concluded in 2019.