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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Portugal scandal MP reinstated
children from Casa Pia
The case centres on the long-established Casa Pia orphanages
A Portuguese politician who spent more than four months in custody facing child sex allegations has been reinstated as a member of parliament.

Paulo Pedroso, who was employment minister until his Socialist Party lost the 2002 elections, was detained on 23 May, as part of an investigation into a paedophile scandal involving state-run children's homes.

He asked for his parliamentary mandate to be suspended when the allegations were first raised against him, saying he wanted to be questioned by police to clear his name.

But after an appeals court in Lisbon ordered his release on Wednesday, he asked to take up his parliamentary seat again.

Parliament's ethics committee voted unanimously in favour on Thursday, and Mr Pedroso is expected to return to parliament on Friday.

Mr Pedroso is one of 12 people implicated in the scandal, which involves allegations of widespread child abuse at a string of homes and schools run by the state-funded Casa Pia foundation.

The others include a former ambassador and two television presenters.

Battle

The case has been dominating the headlines in Portugal since it began last November, with some commentators saying it represents the biggest social upheaval in the country since the 1974 revolution.

Mr Pedroso was freed after the court accepted arguments by his lawyers that his preventive detention was not justified.

He told reporters that the decision came as "a huge personal relief" and said he would battle to prove his innocence.

Mr Pedroso was placed under police probation and will have to notify the authorities if he leaves his Lisbon home for more than five days while the investigation proceeds.

He is suspected of 15 cases of sexual violence against minors between 1999 and 2000. However, he maintains he is innocent and the victim of a smear campaign.

Public prosecutors have until the end of 2004 to press charges against the 12 suspects.




SEE ALSO:
Timeline: Portugal
30 Apr 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Portugal
23 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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