A 49-year-old man appeared in Court on Monday 23rd April accused of having caused a forest fire in Fajões, Oliveira de Azeméis, on October 15, 2017, which was considered “the worst day of the year” in terms of fires.
Before the judges’, the man confessed to the crime, but gave no justification for his conduct, merely saying that before he had been drinking “two litres of wine, more or less.”
The man also said that he only set one fire, contrary to what he told the Judiciary Police when he participated in the reconstitution of the facts.
In the first session of the trial, the court also heard a woman who claimed to have seen the defendant trying to set fire with a lighter.
“He was hiding behind a pine tree looking at the fire. He took a lighter out of his pocket and crouched in the bushes, and I said I would call the guard,” the witness said.
The individual left the place on foot, having been intercepted a few meters ahead by several members of the public who retained it until the arrival of the GNR.
According to the indictment of the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP), the defendant set fire to four different ignition points in the existing undergrowth.
When he tried to carry out the fifth ignition, next to some houses, he was surprised by a resident who, when he saw the defendant with a lighter in his hand by the bush.
The fire spread to the remaining forest, consuming an area of 16 hectares of vegetation comprising bush, pine and eucalyptus trees.
The Prosecution stated that the flames only did not reach other assets, namely a chapel and existing dwellings, due to the prompt and effective performance of the firefighters.
October 15 was considered the “worst day of the year” in terms of forest fires, with almost 500 ignitions (forest fires and agricultural fires), according to the report of the independent technical commission on fires.