Credit: Manuel de Almeida, EPA
Yesterday, Tuesday, the President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, responded to the request made by the Jewish Community of Oporto that he should issue a public apology on behalf of the State. The Head of State informed the Community that the Presidency services had just forwarded the Community’s letter to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
According to Gabriel Senderowicz, President of the Jewish Community of Oporto, “It is now up to the Prime Minister to order an investigation into those responsible for the unlawful actions by the investigation authorities, while the Minister for Foreign Affairs should evaluate the diplomatic sensitivity of this matter. Someone will have to held to account for the moral and material losses and damages suffered by our organisation. These are irremediable and impossible to indemnify,” added Senderowicz.
The Portuguese police had brutalised the Jewish Community of Oporto last year for allegedly having committed impossible crimes. Oporto Synagogue, the Jewish Museum and leaders’ homes were invaded based on unbelievable and slanderous anonymous denunciations which were already known to have been made by convicted slanderers and raiders of private homes and law offices.
In turn, David Garrett, member of the Board in charge of legal matters, states that “in the midst of the political battle over the Sephardic law, a group of individuals tried to take advantage of the situation and threw slanderous denunciations into the public arena. As some State agents wanted to end the Sephardic law and destroy the strongest Jewish community, they thought the denunciations were an excellent opportunity. The result of all this was an eternal problem for a democratic State, now faced with an inconceivable situation. We don't wish anyone harm, but the criminal guideline for the crimes committed and their severity in this particular instance are such that, unfortunately, imprisonment will be the fate of some of these gentlemen".
The Jewish Community of Oporto states that it was politically attacked because it is by far the strongest community in Portugal as far as religion and culture are concerned, and because it is linked to wealthy (and unwanted) Jews from all four continents.
All police action began with the seven indictments below, “BASED ON NOTHING”, in the words of the Court of Appeal of 27 September.
1. The Chief Rabbi had bribed officials of the Registry Office, when in fact he has set foot in such places and knows no-one there.
2. The Chief Rabbi (recognised by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and a graduate in Jewish Studies and History) did not have the technical knowledge to identify a Sephardi originating in Sepharad.
3. The Chief Rabbi had forged the Sephardic origin of a French Israeli who had in fact been certified, and rightly so, by the Lisbon Community.
4. The Chief Rabbi had forged the Sephardic origin of a Russian Israeli who had in fact been certified, and rightly so, by his community of origin.
5. The religious and lay leaders of the Jewish Community of Oporto were suspected of stealing the money of the fees charged to Jews of Sephardic origin.
6. The applicants’ certificates of Sephardic origin were issued by the construction company belonging to the Vice-President’s husband.
7. Suitcases filled with cash were supposed to be found in the home of the Vice-President of the Community, the granddaughter of its founder, the “Portuguese Dreyfus”.