One Dead in Portugal Racial Attack; Skinheads in Court
LISBON, Portugal (AP) _ The president and prime minister on Monday condemned a weekend rampage by skinheads that killed one young black man and injured 12 other people in a city that prides itself on racial harmony.
A group of 50 skinheads _ armed with knives, iron knuckles, sticks and metal bars _ charged early Sunday through Lisbon’s Bairro Alto, a popular downtown district of bars and restaurants.
In a statement, Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva condemned ``this barbarous attack by a group of radicals″ as ``contrary to our values, traditions and legal order.″ President Mario Soares expressed his ``repugnance at the aggressive, racist assault.″
Some attackers beat black youths mingling in the narrow streets, while others prevented victims from escaping. The blacks dismantled scaffolding on houses and used it to defend themselves for nearly two hours before police arrived.
Twelve blacks and one skinhead received hospital treatment. Alcindo Bernardo Monteiro, 27, a Portuguese citizen of Cape Verdean origin, went into a coma and died Monday of injuries to the head and spine, doctors at Sao Jose hospital said.
Nine skinheads were detained and appeared in court Monday. All were in their late teens or early 20s. The hearing was briefly interrupted by a bomb threat, for which no one claimed responsibility.
Most of Lisbon’s black population traces its origin to Portugal’s former colonies in Africa _ Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Sao Tome e Principe and Mozambique.
Soares urged blacks, who make up about 10 percent of Lisbon’s population of 1 million, to resist revenge.
``The overwhelming majority of Portuguese are honored by their presence ... and respect them,″ Soares said.
Racial incidents in Portugal have been rare in the past, but worsening economic conditions, increasing crime and unemployment have fed xenophobia.
As racism has grown, right-wing extremists have begun to organize themselves politically.
A Portuguese Nationalist Party is currently being formed around an informal movement led by lawyer Jose Luis Pinto, who in the past has defended skinheads in court.
The attack coincided with Saturday’s national holiday, the Day of Portugal. Under Portugal’s half-century rightist dictatorship that ended in 1974, June 10 was celebrated as the Day of (the Portuguese) Race.