Iraqi twins accused of attempted murder in Rúben Cavaco case
The case dates back to August 2016, when 18-year-old Rúben Cavaco was beaten to a pulp by the twin sons of the Iraqi ambassador in Portugal, causing a tense stand-off as the attackers were covered by the rules of diplomatic immunity.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office now has charged the (former) ambassador’s children for attempting to murder Cavaco in Ponte de Sor, in the Portalegre district.
The indictment was posted on the website of the Department of Criminal Investigation and Action (DIAP) of Évora, without identifying the defendants, but judicial sources confirmed today that it refers to Haider and Ridha Ali, the children of Saad Mohammed Ridha, the then ambassador of Iraq in Portugal.
The defendants now will be notified that they are to be charged with attempted murder.
Rúben Cavaco suffered multiple fractures and ended up in the Hospital de Santa Maria, in Lisbon, where he was placed in an induced coma. He underwent reconstructive surgery and was discharged in early September 2016.
According to the charge, the defendants, “after a previous physical confrontation and confrontations, violently assaulted the victim, knocking him down and hitting him with punches and kicks directed especially at the head and face, leaving him inanimate and only due to prompt medical-surgical intervention was he not killed.”
The ambassador’s children had diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, and the Portuguese Government twice asked Iraq to waive this immunity so that the twins could formally be questioned.
Then, the diplomatic machine was cranked into action with the nation’s media baying for blood and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, trying to find a solution. The Iraqi authorities “raised legal issues” and then recalled its ambassador while a solution was worked on.
The events on that summer night are still shocking: ‘one of the brothers got out of a car and followed Rúben Cavaco and grabbed him. The other got out of the car shortly afterwards and both of them beat the young man on the ground and assaulted him with punches and kicks, mainly to the head face. They continued their assault even when the victim, lying on the ground, had stopped moving. The attack stopped only when a council cleaner approached the scene,’ runs the prosecutor’s case.
Ridha complained to the GNR that he had been the victims of aggressions hours earlier and denies beating and intending to kill Cavaco.
Santana-Maia Leonardo, the lawyer representing Cavaco said that an extrajudicial agreement had closed any civil action and declined to comment on the State prosecution.
Rúben Cavaco received €40,000 from the Iraqi diplomat, for ‘moral damages,’ as well as €12,000 being donated for hospital expense.
In January 2017, according to Augusto Santos Silva, Iraq considered that there were “not enough elements to justify lifting the diplomatic immunity of the two children of the ambassador.” The Foreign Minister said that the Iraqi authorities had stated that they “want to use the possibility that international law allows them to pursue the case in Iraq under their judicial process.”
This was the solution, the continuation of the case in Iraq, carried out “under the mechanisms of judicial cooperation existing between the different countries.”