RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Dec 5 (Reuters) – A Brazilian court on Friday acquitted the alleged leader of a Satanic sect of the ritual mutilation and killing of boys in a remote Amazon town, officials said.
The decision, by a 6 to 1 jury vote at the end of a 17-days trial in Belem, Para state, caused tumult in the packed courtroom with tears and protests from the victims’ families.
“Valentina de Andrade is acquitted of the charges,” said judge Ronaldo Valle. Andrade, 72, fainted after the judgment and received medical treatment in court.
Andrade’s defense lawyers made no comment but the prosecution said it would appeal against the court’s decision.
Andrade was accused of the murder of three boys and castration of two others in Altamira, 200 kms (125 miles) from Beleme, between 1989 and 1993. She was said to have led the crimes of a sect known as Superior Universal Alignment.
Defense lawyer Arnaldo Busato Filho presented the court documents, including one from Parana state police in southern Brazil, showing that Andrade wasn’t in Altamira when the crimes were committed.
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Prosecution evidence in the case included a video of Andrade’s husband receiving a gun as a gift. “It has bullets of gold to kill little vampires,” Andrade was heard saying.
A group representing the victims says Andrade believes she was contacted by a medium who told her boys born after 1981 were possessed by the devil.
Four other defendants have already been sentenced in the case, which started in August, for prison terms of 35 to 77 years. They included two doctors who were involved in the removal of the genitals of several of the boys.
The four are all appealing against their sentences.
The victims’ families say there were 19 victims in all — boys aged between 8 and 13 who were kidnapped, tortured or killed in Altamira. Not all the boys cases were brought to trial this time because of insufficient evidence.