The Castelo Branco court today sentenced a former firefighter to 12 years and six months’ imprisonment, for causing nine forest fire crimes, one of which was in its most serious form.

The former firefighter was accused of starting 17 forest fires, between July and September 2016, in the municipality of Proença-a-Nova, district of Castelo Branco.

The group of judges considered the fire that erupted on September 7, 2016, in Proença-a-Nova, the most serious, since it involved “a very large area, 950 hectares, causing considerable damage, and the facts were proven that it caused considerable risk to persons and property.”

In relation to the two fires of the afternoon of August 28, 2016, the defendant was acquitted of the fires in question.

As for the rest, they were considered fire crimes in the least serious manner. The defendant was sentenced to one year and six months for one crime, two years for five other crimes and two years and six months for two further crimes.

For the most serious fire a seven-year prison sentence was imposed, and in legal terms this amounted to a single sentence of 12 years and six months.

Before the judgment was read, a psychiatrist was heard by teleconference, and from the expert’s report the defendant was suffering from a major depressive disorder.

“Depression never changes personality traits. It’s the personality that can shape depressive symptoms,” he said.

The defence, which confirmed that it will appeal the decision, stating that the court was trying to find “a scapegoat.”