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Pedrógão Grande rebuilding fund has been misused

FireOctA team under Xavier Viegas's, from the Centre for Forest Fire Studies, has recorded cases where houses being rebuilt in the Pedrógão Grande area had not been damaged by fire, or clearly were ruins before the fire struck last June.

Viegas's team has surveyed about half of the properties that the Regional Development Commission had been told were in need of rebuilding grants.

The researcher said he should really have pointed this out earlier but he had been busy and that it had not been the primary aim of his research, undertaken last year between July and October.

Viegas said there was a list of 'fire-damaged' properties, supplied primarily from the Councils in the fire-devastated area, that could have been destroyed by fire and which could possibly receive rebuilding grants, “we saw that for some it was not reality, either because they had not been affected by the fire, or because they were already ruins before the fire passed," said Xavier Viegas in an interview with RTP and Antena 1.

The researcher from the University of Coimbra admits that the data he has available may not be 100% correct, but he says he has a lot of information that can be useful to the police in their current inquiry.

It was not the goal of his team to survey these dwellings and it was never called on to get involved in the process, "These kinds of issues were mentioned from time to time, but they began to be talked about more, after the report was delivered last October," says Viegas.

Xavier Viegas explains that his researchers visited more than 1,000 properties and categorised them using more than 20 parameters to produce a 1,000 page report.

The researchers were counting on the collaboration of the local Councils, but the one that would not cooperate at all, was Pedrógão Grande.

"What surprised us most in this process was that (the Mayor of Pedrógão Grande) Sr. Valdemar Alves had been reelected as mayor. A man who has been in the job for several years and still did not have an approved fire prevention plan," says Viehas.

"In the research we did, we had great difficulty in obtaining any information at all from this Council, difficulty in even getting to meet this gentleman."

Viegas said that he did not speak up before because he had not realised the importance of knowing if and where grant money had been misused.

This is a key interview and will supply police with evidence that properties that should not have received rebuilding grants, somehow got on the list.

Pedrógão Grande Council’s offices already have been swarming with police, looking for evidence of corruption.

The mayor already has stated that his Council did not handle the money designated for rebuilding properties, 500 so far, that were damaged in the fire and that the police should investigate the €7 million 'Revita Fund' also administered in the town.

Police officers also are investigating whether some people changed their official Fiscal address from their primary home to their burnt-out second home in order to get a rebuilding grant, as only first homes qualify for aid.

The fire broke out on June 17, 2017 in Escalos Fundeiros in the rural Pedrógão Grande municipality and quickly spread to neighbouring Council areas, causing 66 deaths and leaving 253 people injured, seven of them seriously.


0 #7 Darcy 2018-09-16 21:58
The misappropriation of funds for one's own gain is used internationally, by people who are of the opinion that they will not be caught in their pursuit of financial gain which is not lawfully theirs.

However, you can say what you like about these money grabbing opportunists, but the vast majority of Portugese people are more socially development than some European countries (North or otherwise) will ever be.
-1 #6 Dennis.P 2018-09-14 10:20
It is so sad that Portuguese Justice is not concerned with right and wrong but expediency. Any police investigating and judge judging this case will be well aware that the local elite want swift closure and will get it. To move on - after all, larger farm dogs eat before small dogs, which die out yapping to the end or escape if having a chance. So handing out this rebuilding money was an invitation to make better use of it than waste it on the peasants. The crime (not on this occasion lodged in the courts as this is Portugal) will be for anyone found to have reported them.
-2 #5 Elsa 2018-09-14 10:01
Fascinating that, in an apparently developed EU country with openness and transparency of justice, this researcher and his team sat on this highly explosive information. Intending it never published - ever; as far too dangerous.
But then flushed out of hiding by the aggrieved PG fire damaged house owners.
0 #4 Jeff Brown 2018-09-14 09:50
These Portuguese saying it is the "same the whole world over" should get out more, read more, get educated - follow the global news. Not keep seeing Portugal as the peak of human social development. It is nowhere near. What other countries could have tracked Russian poison assassins around their country; then published (not disguised) their faces and movements to the global press whilst appealing for public feedback?
+6 #3 Margaridaana 2018-09-14 08:21
Quoting Charly:
Always the same problems, always the same "criminal impolse" each time a drama occurs in Portugal: why can this people not behave "normally and correctely" ????

Not just Portugal Charly, the same the world over, unfortunately.
+3 #2 TT 2018-09-14 08:10
Quoting Charly:
Always the same problems, always the same "criminal impolse" each time a drama occurs in Portugal: why can this people not behave "normally and correctely" ????

Perhaps because they are following the examples of their "elected leaders". It has already been reported that the government has "kept" up to half of the aid monet granted by the EU.
If there's free money up for grabs the snouts are flocking around the trough.
0 #1 Charly 2018-09-13 18:58
Always the same problems, always the same "criminal impolse" each time a drama occurs in Portugal: why can this people not behave "normally and correctely" ????