The Lisbon Criminal Court sentenced the three agents of the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) to nine years and seven years in prison for the crime, as a co-perpetrator, of a serious serious bodily injury offense, aggravated by the result , by the death of Ukrainian Ihor Homenyuk on March 12, 2020. The judge also had a certificate issued for the investigation of security guards, inspectors, chiefs and coordinators who did nothing to help him .
Duarte Laja and Luís Silva were sentenced to nine years in prison, for having more years of service, and Bruno Sousa to seven years. They were cleared of the crime of possession of an illegal weapon because, although the weapons they carried were personal, SEF allows employees to use them. The accused will appeal the decision.
Homenyuk’s family lawyer José Gaspar Schawlbach says he will analyze the decision and “investigate whether there is a basis for appeal, but I think the sentence may have been low given the seriousness of the facts deemed to be proven. “.
Judge Rui Coelho held that the accused Duarte Laja, Luís Silva and Bruno Sousa caused traumatic injuries to Ihor Homenyuk which, along with the position in which he was handcuffed, behind his back, led to mechanical suffocation, causing his death, as described in the indictment.
They knew from the training they had received that the way they were handcuffed would cause physical, psychological and difficulty breathing and they did so with the aim of subjecting him to this inhuman treatment, the accused said. judge.
But it has not been proven, according to Coelho, that they were aware it would cause death. So he dropped the murder charge. Two of the most quoted sentences the prosecution attributed to the accused have not been proven. “Now he’s calm”, while another said: “Today I don’t even need to go to the gym”.
At the end of the reading of the sentence, addressing the accused, the judge said: “You, by acting like you, you took a person’s life and ruined yours”. The accused will continue to await house arrest until the decision becomes final.
Duarte Laja, Luís Silva and Bruno Sousa were tried on charges of capital murder of Ihor Homenyuk, but the prosecutor who accompanied the trial, Leonor Machado, requested a conviction for serious offenses against qualified physical integrity, considering that ‘ there was no Intention of the officers responsible for killing the Ukrainian citizen who had been prevented from entering Portugal on March 10, turned out to be detained in the temporary installation center of Lisbon airport.
At that time, the prosecutor left the intention to extract certificates against other interveners, namely counts, before reading the sentence. On April 7, in anticipation of the decision, the president of the college of judges had already said that he would consider sentencing the officers for less serious crimes.
It was the 13th session of the trial. During 11 sessions, which began in early February, dozens of witnesses were heard – inspectors, chefs, coordinators, security guards, doctors, nurses and other professionals.
Rui Coelho also said that if Ihor Homenyuk had ever been beaten before entering the room, the defendants themselves would have reported to the chiefs his condition and complained to the security guards. The purpose of his intervention, he argued, was to prevent him from causing further disruption and to allow no one else to worry about him until he got on board. Leaving the keys to the handcuffs to the security guards did not relieve him as they did not expect him to be comfortable, but to release him just before boarding to be deported.
In court, the deputy had proposed a sentence of at least 13 years for Luís Silva and Duarte Laja, and a minimum of 8 years for Bruno Sousa, considering that he had less experience and could have been influenced by d ‘other.
The magistrates considered that, although the facts attributed to the prosecution support the offense of serious breach of integrity, the legal qualification could be changed. The big difference between the two crimes is what the court found to be the intention of the defendants regarding the death of Ihor Homenyuk.
In the order of the prosecutor of September 30, the prosecutor Óscar Ferreira considered that there was deception. He accused officers of attacking Ihor Homenyuk causing him wounds in deadly areas and handcuffing him in a position that could result in death – he said inspectors knew and were “complying. To this fact.
The judge and the prosecutor understood that the defendants had no direct intention to kill Homenyuk. Rui Coelho also mentioned that if that had been the intention, they would have done it immediately.
Agents have always denied
All three officers denied the charge of capital homicide and said they did not even assault Ihor Homenyuk. His lawyers argued that the accused was only 30 minutes with Ihor when several professionals met him.
The defense strategy involved security guards and other inspectors, but they also claimed that it was the lack of medical assistance and the conditions of SEF detention that led the Ukrainian to his death. The security guards gave the court a different version than what they reported on the investigation and were prosecuted by the lawyers for the three defendants, for false testimony.
The defense of Luís Silva and Bruno Sousa wanted a new expertise in the autopsy and also wanted to appeal to testify other forensic experts, who defended flaws in the work of Dr. Carlos Durão, but the judge rejected the request , claiming that it was not necessary. Homenyuk’s body was cremated and the ashes sent to Ukraine. In the sentence, the judge said there was no reason to question the doctor’s autopsy.