Five arrested over death of Cape Verdean student in Portugal
Five suspects have been arrested over the beating death of a Cape Verdean student, Portugese police said Friday, after outcry by an anti-racism group and diaspora from the West African archipelago brought attention to the case.
Giovani Rodrigues, 21, and three of his friends were assaulted during a brawl outside of a bar in the northeastern Portuguese city of Braganca last month.
The student spent 10 days in a coma before dying in a hospital in the northern city of Porto on December 31.
Rodrigues’s family condemned police inaction following the initial assault, and Cape Verde’s government even stepped in to urge Portugal — the former colonial ruler of the tiny island nation — to investigate quickly.
On Friday, Luis Neves, national director of Portugal’s judicial police, said five men aged between 22 and 35 had been arrested following searches and interrogations the previous day.
“They are suspected of aggravated homicide and three offences of attempted homicide,” he said.
However Neves dismissed any link to racism behind the attack, saying that the fight between the two groups outside the bar was started over “pointless motives”.
“It should not be seen as a crime between people of different nationalities or races,” he added, acknowledging the case had sparked “some social commotion”.
The victim’s father, Joaquim Rodrigues, has criticised the fact that the judicial police did not take over the investigation until after his son’s death.
Anti-racism association SOS Racisme said it was “stunned by the almost total silence” in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
At the start of January, Cape Verde’s Foreign Minister Luis Filipe Tavares asked Portugal to “swiftly” solve the crime.
In an effort to drag the case into the spotlight, the Cape Verdean diaspora held protests expressing “indignation” on Saturday in Braganca and Portugal’s capital Lisbon, as well as London and Paris.