Outrage in Portugal over police beating of man in front of his children
20 May 2015
Video footage of Jose Magalhaes being struck by police at Benfica football match has put family at centre of national scandal over alleged police brutality.
Video footage of a Portuguese policeman beating a middle-aged football fan in front of his two young sons has caused a national scandal in the country.
Jose Magalhaes took his sons and his 66-year-old father to watch their team, Benfica, play an away fixture against Vitória de Guimarães. The 0-0 draw meant Benfica won the league title.
The video, which also shows the police officer punching Magalhaes’s father, has sparked outrage in Portugal and led to an official investigation by authorities of alleged police abuse of power.
Magalhaes, 42, told AP on Tuesday that police had allowed him and his sons to leave the stadium before others because his children, aged nine and 13, were being crushed as Benfica fans inside celebrated.
“It was supposed to be a day of celebration,” Magalhaes told AP in his hometown of Matosinhos.
The police force’s national headquarters said it has opened an investigation into the incident. The government department that oversees the police is also analysing police conduct.
The dramatic footage, played widely on Portuguese TV and social media, shows the Magalhaes family by a low wall outside the stadium, where the youngest child sat down and drank a bottle of water.
There were few other people in the vicinity because police were holding rival fans inside the stadium in northern Portugal, to avoid clashes in surrounding streets.
An officer questioned Magalhaes, then punched his father before using a truncheon to beat Magalhaes on the ground while his nine-year-old screamed: “Dad! Dad!”
“The policeman came over ... and asked us why we had brought children to a stadium if we knew there might be trouble,” Magalhaes said.
“I told him, gesticulating, that he should be more concerned about the problems inside the stadium.
“The next thing I know he’s on top of me.”
Another policeman in riot gear with a shield kept the 9-year-old child away and tried to pick him up as he cried.
Magalhaes said his first worry was his youngest son.
“The kid didn’t understand what was going on. I wanted to get over to him and comfort him ... and calm him down,” he said. Instead, Magalhaes was handcuffed and taken away.
Magalhaes said the policeman alleged at an initial court hearing on Monday that Magalhaes spat at him, a claim Magalhaes denied. Magalhaes said the police had previously been kind to him and his family by letting them leave the stadium early.
The incident has brought a flurry of investigations and charges.
Magalhaes’s lawyer, Sonia Carneiro, said police have brought a complaint of threatening behaviour and obstruction against Magalhaes.
After an initial hearing on Monday, the public prosecutor’s office is now investigating whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a formal charge against Magalhaes. There is no deadline for a decision.
Magalhaes said he and his father intend to file a complaint against the police, though he acknowledges that the one officer who hit him does not represent the entire police force.
Meanwhile, he has to explain what happened to his children. He and his wife had taught them that the police are their friends, he said, and they “couldn’t understand why the police acted like they did”.
As he nurses his bruises and stiffness, Magalhaes hopes an invitation from Benfica to watch next weekend’s final game of the season will help banish the bad memory.
“The physical part will heal faster than the psychological part,” he said.http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/20/outrage-in-portugal-over-police-beating-of-man-in-front-of-his-children