|Coming soon in Belém • Brasília • Hamburg • Lisbon • New York • Recife • Rio de Janeiro|
Habeas Corpus for Craig Eliot Alden
"I am innocent. I just need a chance to prove it.
Craig Eliot Alden is a political prisoner in Brazil. We request urgent support of all human rights international organizations around the entire world to a case of modern slavery, in which the Brazilian Judicial Power is politically compromised with the error. It’s the worst kind of dictatorship in all human history. The Brazilian justice forgot that on 13th of May of 1888, Princess Isabel promulgated the Golden Law: "As of this date, slavery in Brazil is declared extinct."
eyeLegal filed a Habeas Corpus directed to the STF Plenary Assembly - Brazilian Federal Supreme Court - on 14th December 2007 in favor of Craig Eliot Alden, signed together with many of the supposed victims and witnesses of the original process in which Craig was convicted.
As you can see below, the eminent Supreme Court Judge denied the HC 93398-GO.
We understand that all of the 15 (fifteen) applicants must be formally summoned by registered letter. Criminal Procedure Code, art. 370 par. 1st.
Observe what the American Convention on Human Rights states, in which Brazil is signatory, Article 25:
Article 25. Right to Judicial Protection
When did you already see the victims apply for habeas corpus
Correio Braziliense: "A pact of silence"
The Brazilian newspaper Correio Brasiliense published on Saturday, 19th January 2008, the following item by Cláudio Dantas, entitled "A pact of silence" pg. 22:
"The Brazilian and United Kingdom diplomacies have counted their losses and decided to firm a pact of silence around two problems of judicial origin: the murder of Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, in the London undergound, in 2005, and the conviction of British teacher Craig Eliot Alden, accused of abusing minors in the Abrigo Warboys of Planaltina, in 2000. The two cases populated the headlines of the world press, mobilizing the diplomatic apparatus from both countries as means of political pressure to seek justice. "They don't bother us more with the case of Charles de Menezes and we put Craig Alden in the bottom drawer", a British diplomat reveals.
The decision to abandon Craig Alden was expressed by the Foreign Office at the End of 2007, in letter to the Englishman’s mother obtained by the Correio. "I imagine that you may feel disappointed that we will not be submitting ourselves in any more representation in favor of Craig but I hope that you understand that we cannot interfere in the judicial system of other countries, just as other countries cannot interfere in our judicial system" wrote Neil Hulbert, from the section of Latin America of the British Chancellery. While flaws accumulate in the process against the Englishman, nobody was made responsible by the murder of the Brazilian.
In December, the STF rejected request of Habeas Corpus petitioned by NGO Eyelegal. The organization alleges flaws in the process against Alden..." (continue)
The Alden Case may become a movie
eyeLegal is looking for a producer in Brazil or abroad
to make with private funds. Click here to contact us.
The mistake of the press
"On February 23 - when judging a petition of habeas-corpus written by an evangelical pastor, convicted by sexual abuse -, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) considered unconstitutional the paragraph of the Law of the Hideous Crimes that forbids the regimen progression in serving the sentence for one convicted by these crimes. The decision was close: 6 votes against 5."
Criminality increases each day, frightening everybody, and highlighting the weakness of the Government to combat it. In São Paulo, a historical phenomenon happened, that left the National public opinion stupefied. The state Government lost control of the security and the criminals violently attacked the institutions, showing that they didn’t have a minimum respect for the Police, the Public Prosecution, or the Judicial Power. 22 murders were counted in one day alone against Military police who died in the course of duty jobs, along with prison agents and civil police.
This demonstration of power from the criminal factions that work from inside and outside of the São Paulo prison system, shows the size of the problem that has to be resolved at whatever the cost, else administrative chaos will be rife, and the consequent demoralization of the authorities. This ought to be considered a sign of the times, or rather, a result of everything that was not done in the implementation of crime combat politics. The Government makes out that it does not see what is going on in the jails, police stations, hospitals, the streets nor in the papers, radio, television and Internet. Watch a bit of the "Mean Streets of São Paulo", made by the Australian SBS TV Dateline programme.
We need to clarify that we are not siding with the ministers who voted against, nor are we against those who voted in favor and thus determined the outcome, along with the conducting vote in lifted humanitarian spirit that nearly suggests to us that convicts of these hideous crimes are victims of circumstances. What interests us is that the moment couldn’t have been worst.
With this argument, the press lifted a question to be considered concerning whether the British Citizen Craig Eliot Alden had a "Judicial Victory" in the Federal Supreme Court. It is not certain. In Craig’s case, all that the STF determined in his favor was that "after the judgement of the HC No.82.959/SP. By the plenary of the STF, it is no longer prohibited the prison progression regime for convicts of hideous crimes". And, by this "…The ministers of the first team of the Federal Supreme Court agree, by the presidency of Sir Minister Sepúlveda Pertence, in conformity with the acts of judgements and taquigraph notes, in unanimity, permit, in part, the Habeas Corpus to remove the legal impediment of paragraph 1, art 2, of law No. 8072/90, leaving to the execution court to decide as it understands, the rights and prerequisites of the regime progression". Read the Sentence in PDF Format - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.
It was the São Paulo evangelical pastor who had a glorious victory, his writ of Habeas Corpus No 82.959, distributed in the STF on 1st April 2003, judged on 23rd February 2006, a Thursday, eve of carnival, and published in the Justice Diary on 1st September 2006.
The chronological list of some of the events that happened before the concession of regime progression to day release for Craig Eliot Alden was as follows:
01/APR/2003 – Distribution of HC 82.959-SP – evangelical pastor in São Paulo
"On the last May 12, the substitute Judge Aline Vieira Tomás judged the recourse of the British citizen and conceded the regime progression in serving the sentence."
If the Jornal de Brasilia information is correct, firstly this means that the Planaltina de Goiás Criminal Court would have turned down the regime progression, and only after the defense enter with a recourse (appeal), would the substitute judge have reconsidered the previous decision to concede progression to the day release regime to the British citizen.
As of applying for the Habeas Corpus 86.711-GO on 20th September 2005, Craig didn’t have the right to regime progression in complying his sentence, by ruling of the first paragraph, article 2 of the Hideous Crimes Law. Whereas, when his HC was judged in the STF on 4th April 2006, Craig already had the right to apply for regime progression to the Criminal Court of Planaltina de Goiás, independently of the decision of his HC in the STF, since 23rd February, when HC 82.959-SP was judged. For this reason we can say that he did not have a victory in the STF, as the annulment of the case that he had applied for was turned down and, the rights conceded, Craig Alden already had since the carnival, as the very STF determined.
There are still two imprecisions that need to be registered. The first is where it is confirmed that:
"The ministers of STF unanimously agreed with the vote of the reporting minister Enrique Lewandowski. He cancelled a previous decision by the Higher Court of Justice, which prohibited his migration to the semi-open regime."
This is not correct. The previous decision from the Higher Court of Justice (STJ), referred to, that prohibited the progression of regime was automatically "cancelled" on 23rd February, because of the judgement of the HC 82.959-SP and, as of then, it was no longer prohibited that a hideous crimes felon apply to the sentence executions judge for regime progression, who would decide if the convict would achieve this progression or not. That is what happened with Craig. The STF said that he could apply for regime progression because it was no longer prohibited, but "leaving to the execution court to decide as it understands the rights and prerequisites of the regime progression".
And the second imprecision is that, due to this, it is clear that in conceding the progression of regime to day release, the substitute judge of Planaltina de Goiás didn’t comply "a decision of the 1st STF's Group that, in April 4th, assured Craig's migration for the semi-open parole regime". In fact she took her own decision. Apart from this, she wasn’t carrying out a STF decision because in fact the STF hadn’t taken that decision, having only determined that Craig had the right to ask for progression to day release regime to the executor judge, now that it was no longer prohibited.
Whereas, after Craig’s defense applied to the STF with a request similar to the prisoner pastor in São Paulo, the Habeas Corpus 82.959, with Prosecutor opposition, and according to the Agência Estado, scripted by an evangelical pastor, made the plenary of the Supreme Court change the constitutional interpretation of the Hideous Crimes Law. Fourty days afterwards, the STF determined that Craig had the right to apply for regime progression to day release. Observe that if this jurisprudence evolution had not happened, the STF would have denied to Craig:
1) The annulment of the case, as in fact was denied; and
The result would have been that Craig could have spent nearly 12 years locked in closed regime because even complying more than two thirds of the sentence, he would have been in a difficult situation to obtain conditional freedom and, if this were denied by the execution judge, he could spend years appealing to the higher instances, arguing that he had already complied the sentence as he also worked in the prison. Simplifying, in the best of hypotheses, he would have remained in the closed regime for nearly 8 years, or rather, theoretically until he reached conditional freedom, around 2010. Now consider that, amid international pressure in a case where there are lots of doubts about the work of the Brazilian Judiciary, Craig says he’s innocent and victim to a conspiracy to incarcerate him. The Federal Supreme Court couldn’t adopt a criminal politic decision of this magnitude in favor of a British Citizen in memoriam of Jean Charles de Menezes, without causing a judicial headache never seen in Brazil's History, as well as, because it would be an unequal treatment never served up to Brazilian citizens.
Art 2nd the hideous crimes, torture practice, smuggling of drugs and
trafficking, terrorism are not compatible with:
* The first paragraph was the legal part declared unconstitutional by the STF.
The Penal Code
Art. 83 – The judge may concede conditional freedom to the convict
complying sentence, equal or more than two years if:
"Despite the recent judicial victory, Craig Alden does not hide his disappointment about a broken promise. Since last month he has been expecting a visit of the First Lady Marisa Letícia da Silva, who made the commitment to Maureen Alden, 62, Craig’s mother."
For the same reasons, the First Lady, Marisa Letícia da Silva, could not visit Craig in prison. The presidential clerks had probably suggested the inconvenience of this meeting. In Government and matters of state there are many protocols, legal procedures and political implications to be considered. The "hug of hope" shown in the photograph of the English newspaper Cambridge Evening News is an emotion snapshot and a possible sincere desire of the Brazilian First Lady to visit Craig in the prison. As she isn't a professional politician, she is a woman, a Brazilian and a mother, we believe that the First Lady really sided herself with Mrs. Alden’s drama, but her visit to Craig in the prison would bring more problems for the British citizen, because it would be seen as special treatment and, probably, an interference of the Presidency of the Republic in the subjects of the Judicial Power, which would wound the independence between the powers of the Republic, creating a cutting edge. If it was possible for them to guide them in the direction of a legal solution for the case of Craig Alden, this visit would only make things more difficult. Watch the video of the meeting in London.
The problem of Brazil is in the Justice. If Brazil gets Justice, it will not lack resources for education, health care and security. It's is proven that in the areas where there are serious and competent people working Brazil it is a success, for example, in the oil industry, aeronautics, in biotechnology and food production. But, sadly, amongst those called the Brazilian "elite" there are those that don’t want the development of the country. They are anachronistic and don’t know if Brazil is to grow, they are ever more powerful, because when allowing the cake to grow their slice is also bigger. These are the same ones that don’t want education and health care. That is what causes the violence.
Craig also is a victim of these circumstances. He is an excluded person of the Brazilian Justice because, if he is really guilty, the punishment that he has received would be insufficient and, if he is innocent; he did not have the necessary guarantees for his defense. Maybe this is because somebody is in a very difficult situation with the evidence of his innocence. He cannot return to England without the chance of a fair trial, on which there are no doubts left. In his country, Craig would be received as a condemned, minors sex offender, and would not have no chance to restart his normal life. He would be on the international criminal register where the criminal information of individuals in other countries are held. To clean his name and to take off it of this register, Craig Alden would need guarantees to prove his innocence. This depends on the Goiás State Court being interested in hearing him and clarifying who had interest in his arrest and why. Therefore, in this case, the bandit would not be Craig.
The mistake of the First Lady
"There is something very strange in the way this case was handled, to say the least", concludes Aldo de Campos Costa, one of the lawyers defending Craig. He adds that Craig was only convicted because he was assisted by unskilled defense lawyers during most of the trial.
"The accusations are all testimonial and no medical tests were ever done", observes Gustavo Carvalho, one of Craig’s lawyers. "Craig only was convicted because he had bad lawyers at the beginning of the process".
In the Brazilian legal system, lawyers cannot commit serious errors. Either their work is right, or it is wrong. It isn’t a question of professional opinion, agreement or different point of view. The practice of serious errors can subject the lawyer to the suspension of the right to exert the profession, without damage to the civil and criminal liability that the case holds, in the maximum extension of the law. When the errors of the lawyer contribute for an unfair criminal conviction it’s necessary to discover the motivation of such errors and discover if anybody participated in this. If there was betrayal it’s a crime called unfaithful sponsorship:
The due process of law is not a game. All the actors of the process are obliged to respect objective rules that limit the conduct of each one, be they judge, prosecutor, lawyer, expert, part etc. But if a case reaches the dimension of an international scandal indicating the bad conduction of a court action in which there was no technical evidence, the victims and the witnesses say that they had been coerced to sign under threat depositions without reading and seek the press and the National Congress to tell the truth and to denounce, then, somebody will have to take action. The Brazilian society does not like this. Brazil does not want doubts on the security of decrees of the Justice in Planaltina de Goiás, Pernambuco or anywhere else. We don't want political prisoners in this country, if this is the case.
In these situations, the judge is obliged to declare a defendant defenseless, and to determine the substitution of the defender. Thus, the process cannot follow its normal course because it lacks the basic estimated course of equality of treatment for the parts, by radical vice of illegality that does not allow the impartial judgment and violates the constitutional guarantee to the contrary and the right of defense. In these circumstances described in the press, we cannot say that the Public Prosecution, the owner of the right to promote this criminal action, would have accomplished satisfactorily the legal obligation to prove its accusations. If this hypothesis described in the press being confirmed, it would mean that the action that convicted Craig Eliot Alden is null, and has absolutely no value.
It is the case, for example, of The Bar Council of England and Wales to request to the federal council of the Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (Bar Association of Brazil) a complete inquiry on the conduct of the lawyers in the process, to verify if it had infraction to discipline or crime of unfaithful sponsorship. The FCO - Foreign and Commonwealth Office, linked to the British Parliament, sent a British lawyer to Brazil to analyze the case. Quoting Martin Luther King, the conclusions of its Reports cannot be published because of the court secret: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
The said Reports and the information published in the press constitute a robust indication set that authorizes the British Embassy, the Alden family and anyone of the people to officially request the Brazilian Government, an ample federal criminal inquiry, to clarify the obscure circumstances in which occurred this conviction of the British citizen. Everything points to the confirmation of Craig's version, but if you do not believe him click here.
The Federal Supreme Court already denied Craig once, but nothing hinders it reconsidering its’ decision of HC 86.711-GO to grant the British citizen habeas corpus ex-officio, in the light of the evidence of notorious facts published in the Jornal de Brasilia, nullifying the case and forwarding license of acquittal in his favor, determining that the Superior Tribunal of Justice (Federal Higher Court of Justice) opens an inquest, in order to investigate the serious denunciations of judicial misconduct in the process that convicted him. It is what is now requested, for the prestige of Justice itself.
Therefore, if you desire to sign this order of habeas corpus in favor of Craig Eliot Alden, send us e-mail informing your full name, city, state/province and country, authorizing its publication. It isn't necessary to be a lawyer. Visit the Free Craig Alden campaign website.
Global Network for Civil Rights
Common citizens from all countries can be members
British citizen free during daytime
Prisoner since 2002 in Brasilinha public jail, accused of maltreatment and sexual abuses against children, Craig Alden passed for semi-open parole regime
By Wellton Máximo
After waiting for more than one month the greeting of a decision of the Supreme Federal Court of Justice, the British citizen Craig Alden, 36, conquered the right to spend his days outside of prison. Convict in 2002 for supposed maltreatments and sexual abuses of the children and teenagers from the orphanage that directed, from 1991 to 2002, in Planaltina de Goiás, about to 65 Km from Brasília, passed to the semi-open parole regime by decision of the Planaltina de Goiás local Court.
On the last May 12, the substitute Judge Aline Vieira Tomás judged the recourse [appeal] of the British citizen and conceded the regime progression in serving the sentence. She accomplished a decision of the 1st STF's Group that, in April 4, assured Craig's migration for the semi-open parole regime. But he affirms that the struggle to clean his name did not arrive to the end. Craig alleges innocence and supports in belied of supposed victims and old accusers. In November 27, December 10, and on April 20, the newspaper Jornal de Brasília showed a former intern that admits have been coerced to witness against the British citizen. To protest, he did hunger strike for 43 days last year.
Craig hopes in an action of criminal revision in which one of the witnesses interviewees by the newspaper belies accusations of sexual abuse. The process runs in Justice Court of Goiás, in Goiânia, and it did not have the tried merit. "If I was guilty, he would have request the extradition or run away from, instead of stay, trying to revert my condemnation", says Craig. Jailed in July 2002, the British citizen was convicted to 48 years and nine months to imprisonment, afterwards reduced punishment to 11 years and eight months.
British citizen may be allowed to spend
Convicted for supposed sexual abuse against minors, Craig Alden is about to be placed under semi-open regime
By Wellton Máximo
The British citizen Craig Alden, who has been sentenced to 11 years and 8 months of imprisonment for alleged maltreatment and sexual abuse of children in the orphanage he used to run in Planaltina de Goiás (about 65 Kilometres from Brasilia), might be placed under a semi-open regime. On the 4th of the current month, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) allowed the British Citizen, who had been in prison since July 2002, to file for a regime progression.
The ministers of STF unanimously agreed with the vote of the reporting minister Enrique Lewandowski. He cancelled a previous decision by the Higher Court of Justice, which prohibited his migration to the semi-open regime. However, the judge did not comply with Alden’s request for annulment of sentence, in which he alleges that the imprisonment was the result of a set up. Last year, he even engaged in a hunger strike for 43 days.
In order to be released during daytime, going back only to sleep in Planaltina’s public jail, Craig will have to appeal to the local Court. Since he has already served one third of his sentence and, according to prison workers, with good behaviour, he is eligible to go into the semi-open regime. Once outside of prison, he promises to keep fighting to clear his name. "The sentence has not been annulled and I can’t take responsibility for crimes I did not commit", he says. "This is why I refused to be extradited back to England."
Craig currently weights around 183 pounds, almost 45 more than his lightest during the hunger strike, and alleges that there have been flaws in the trial that put him behind the bars. On 27 November and 10 December, the local newspaper, Jornal de Brasília, revealed indications of irregularities in the process. Despite the gravity of the charges, there is no medical statement attesting the reported aggressions and sexual abuse. Besides, supposed victims declare that they have never been molested and former accusers admit that they were constrained to witness against Craig Alden.
STRUGGLE – Craig’s struggle to prove his innocence has already started. His lawyers request that an alleged victim of sexual abuse, who has confessed that he had been held in private incarceration to witness against Craig, be heard in court again. The action has been overruled by the Planaltina Court, but the lawyers appealed to the Goiás Court of Justice (TJ-GO) in Goiania.
On 9 February, Judge Leandro Crispim of TJ-GO refused the new statement. According to Gustavo Carvalho, one of Craig’s lawyers, "the judge considered that we had used the wrong instrument, but we filed a special appeal. So far the court has not analysed the authenticity of the retraction statement".
At the beginning of December, public prosecutor Maria Aparecida Amorim, who has acted in the process against Craig, denied having any political motivation to accuse him. "The investigation took two years and I am convinced that the abuses did occur", she stated then.
Before the changes on the Law of Heinous Crimes, which allowed that convicts charged with this type of crime file for progression in serving the sentence, Craig was counting on a favorable decision by the Federal Public Prosecution Office. The document of November 2005 recommended the progression to the semi-open system and served as the basis for STF’s decision.
More retraction statements
The list of victims and witnesses who are taking back the statements given against Craig Alden is only getting longer. J.A.A (*), an alleged victim who is now 18, stated in court that he had had at least 10 sexual relations with Craig. Now, he denies having suffered any abuse. "During the four years I lived in the orphanage, I never saw any suspect act from Craig, with me or any other intern", he claims.
The former intern says he had been induced to testify against Craig Alden. "They kept putting words in my mouth and wouldn’t let me read it before signing", he recalls. "I had no experience in courts and didn’t know what I was signing", he declares. He is willing to be included in the revision action currently in process in the TJ-GO to rectify the charges.
J.’s friend, age 17, confirms that Craig’s life in the orphanage was tranquil. He admits to having witnessed aggressions against minors, but by two former interns called Bruno and William, who were respectively 15 and 16 at the time of the imprisonment. "I saw William beat a boy", he recalls.
According to former interns and employees, William promised to return and destroy Alden’s reputation after being expelled from the orphanage by Craig in May 2002 for molesting a boy. Despite being a child abuser, he became one the main witnesses against Craig. On 10 December 2005, Jornal de Brasília interviewed a teenager who admitted to having been molested by William.
DEFENSE – Former intern D.O.J, 20 years old, considers Craig as a father and usually visits him in prison. He guarantees to have defended him during the hearing but the reports say he declared he had heard statements of sexual abuse and had seen Craig drunk. "They made me repeat the statement ten times and I can guarantee I did not say any of that", he declares.
D. claims to have been suffering threats. The last one, according to him, occurred last month when two men covered with hoods approached him at his doorway and told him not to say anything in favor of Craig. Frightened, he left Planaltina de Goiás.
The relations between Craig and the local authorities were difficult during the time he ran the orphanage, from 1991 to 2002. The local Public Prosecutor’s Office and Juvenile Council kept sending juvenile offenders to the care home against Craig’s will and, according to him, they were embezzling the resources destined for the interns’ meals. Among the interns sent without Craig’s authorisation were William and Bruno.
Disappointment with the First Lady
Despite the recent judicial victory, Craig Alden does not hide his disappointment about a broken promise. Since last month he has been expecting a visit of the First Lady Marisa Letícia da Silva, who made the commitment to Maureen Alden, 62, Craig’s mother.
On 7 March, during President Lula’s visit to the UK, Marisa responded to the protests at the Residence of the Brazilian Ambassador in London and talked to Maureen for a few minutes. "After hugging me, the First Lady asked me if she could visit Craig in prison", says Maureen, who has been to Brazil to follow the trial in the STF.
As evidence of the episode, Craig shows the British newspaper Cambridge Evening News. The edition published a photograph of the hug on the cover and reported the First Lady’s promise. "She said that, being a mother herself, she was able to feel my pain", Maureen recalls. According to her, Marisa said she would send an official photograph of their meeting to Craig.
The reply came a month later, in a typed letter signed by Marisa. In the correspondence, which did not include the promised photograph, the First Lady said she informed herself about Craig’s situation and couldn’t do anything to help him. "I’m disappointed, but I hope one day she comes to visit me and learn about my story", says Craig.
Boy misses his father
The charges against Craig are even more painful to his wife, Marlí Dias Alden, 41. She has been married to Craig since 1994, although they separated in 1998. "Back then, he sad he didn’t want me, only later he told me he was protecting me from threats", she explains.
Within the process, however, the reason declared for the separation is quite different. According to witnesses, Marlí had abandoned her husband after finding out he had intimate relations with an intern. "I have no idea where they took that from", she declares. "I find it strange that neither I nor those alleged to be responsible for the break up have been called to testify".
By the time of the imprisonment, Marlí and Craig were about to get back together. "Even though being distant, we’re still friends", she says. According to her, their 11-year-old son misses his dad. "He avoids the subject, but is suffering with all this".
Craig Alden’s work with poor children in Planaltina do Goiás began the first time he came to Brazil, in 1988, on a students’ trip. In the sixth week here, Craig, who was 18 then, witnessed the murder of a child at a fair. "At that moment I promised myself that I would come back and help the poor children in the country", he relates.
For about a year and a half, Craig visited Brazil several times to donate money to philanthropic institutions. Dissatisfied with the lack of rendering of accounts by the organisations, he decided to gather a group of friends together and open an orphanage.
In 1990 he bought a ranch near Planaltina de Goiás. A year later, he founded the Warboys Care Home, which helped around 400 children until the date of Craig’s imprisonment.
Briton on hunger strike feels sick in jail
Craig Alden is serving sentence for crimes he claims he has never committed
By Wellton Máximo
English National Craig Alden, 36, who started a hunger strike on 1 November at the Planaltina de Goiás Public Jail, 40 miles from Brasilia, watches his own health deteriorate as he waits for an answer from the Courts. On Thursday evening he felt sick but refused to go to hospital. Even though he started drinking juices and yoghurts after 9 p.m., he is still not eating. He can barely stand and keeps losing weight. "I will only end the hunger strike if the Brazilian authorities pay attention on me", says Craig, who once weighed 229 pounds and now weighs 145.
Alden was sentenced in 2008 to 48 years in jail for supposed sexual abuse and maltreatment of minors in a local orphanage, but his sentence was later reduced to 11 years. He will only stop his protest if the Courts accept one of the habeas corpus requests filed at the Federal Supreme Court, the Higher Court of Justice and the Goiás State Court of Justice. He also places his hopes on a justification action, where former accusers change their statements and denounce irregularities in the proceedings.
COERCION – Former residents at the Abrigo Warboys do Brasil, an orphanage founded by Craig in 1991, still allege they were coerced to speak against him. On 27 November, Jornal de Brasília revealed that several of the main supposed victims cited in the records had not even been called to witness in court. Some former accusers also confessed having signed the statements without reading them.
Despite the gravity of the suspicions, no medical report was requested. According to former orphanage residents and staff, the real sexual abusers were two youngsters named William and Bruno, both 15 when Craig was imprisoned. Their whereabouts are not known. William and Bruno, who had a difficult relationship with the other interns, had been sent to the orphanage by the local Prosecution Service and the Minors Guardianship Council – who are said to fill the orphanage with young offenders. According to Craig’s defenders, when William was expelled from the orphanage after being found molesting a boy, he promised to return and destroy Alden’s reputation.
REGRET –Miguel*, 22, formerly employed at the orphanage, confirms the story. On 22 May, two months before the arrest, he drove William from the care home to Taguatinga, where the boy’s family lived. Since the Prosecution Service had refused to take responsibility for him, the minor was returned to his family. "On the way there he said several times that Craig was going to suffer the consequences for having expelled him", he remembers.
Despite having heard the threats, Miguel appears in the process as one of the accusers. In court, he admitted having heard William complain about Craig’s supposed harassment. "I thought about it, but realised he had no evidence and would be hurting the father that raised me for ten years", he says. On the statement he signed without reading, Miguel says he witnessed English visitors engage in drinking binges at the orphanage. "I have no idea where they took that from", he contests after hearing about the allegations.
According to Miguel, when he decided to rectify the statement and change sides, he suffered reprisals. He says policemen took him to a police station in Formosa, where he was locked in a cell for 20 minutes and then released. "I was arrested without knowing why", he complains. "They have never given me an explanation and I’m in constant fear". A year after Craig’s arrest, Miguel had another surprise. He met William, who said he regretted what he did. "He said he had even written a retraction letter, but he disappeared soon after that and I never saw him again", he recalls.
Case reaches the Chamber
The suspected irregularities in the trial that led to Craig Alden’s conviction attracted the attention of the Chamber of Deputies’ Human Rights Committee. In addition to following up on the action where former accusers withdraw their statements, the Committee intends to sue those responsible for the proceedings if the irregularities are proved.
The Committee’s attorney Augustino Veit will wait for the formal retraction of the witnesses to take any steps. "It looks as if these people are going to maintain the retraction of their statements, but we need to be sure", he says. However, he believes it is possible that the process was mishandled from the beginning. "They never asked for a medical report, nor called several of the main supposed victims", he observes.
According to Veit, since Craig’s arrest former residents and employees have appeared at the commission to contest the accusations. Since he built the orphanage, Craig had a difficult relationship with local authorities, who kept sending young offenders to the orphanage against Craig’s will. "We have received accusations that Craig’s conviction was a retaliation against his finding out that social funds were being misused in Planaltina", says Veit.
ANNOYANCE – The Prosecutor who acted in the case against Craig, Maria Aparecida Amorim, denies any political motivation for the sentence issued in November 2002. She says she is fully convinced that there was sexual abuse, and claims that she investigated the case for 2 years before the arrest. "The Courts have judged the accusations, and it is all formalised", she affirms, clearly annoyed with the questions.
A former employee at the orphanage, Ms Andrea*, aged 50, is sure that there was a set-up. She is afraid of being identified, but affirms that in April 2002, she overheard a conversation during which someone promised Craig’s job to the then Deputy Head of the orphanage in exchange for co-operation to convict him. "I wasn’t able to identify the voice, but I heard the conversation very clearly", she remembers.
REPORTS – Former Orphanage Deputy Director Maria Luiza Silva challenges the allegations. "It was even said that I was in love with Craig and wanted revenge on him for having rejected me, but it was all a lie", she claims in her defense. She confirms the disagreements between Mr. Alden and Planaltina authorities, but says she stood by him up to the moment he was arrested. "I was the person who worked the hardest to solve the impasses created by Craig", she adds.
Although she was summoned as a defense witness, Maria Luiza helped to convict Mr Alden. In Court, she declared having heard reports of sexual abuse to minors by Craig during the 7 years she worked for the orphanage. "I heard it from the children, but only believed it after the arrest", she says. For Craig, Maria Luiza’s statement is a further indication that the case was badly handled. "The main defense witness acted for the accusation", he explains.
* names changed to protect identity
According to the prison staff at the Planaltina de Goiás Public Jail, Craig Alden has good behaviour and has been performing internal services in prison. He does administrative work, cleaning, and until recently he also helped to serve food to the other inmates. "Although I helped to deliver meals to the other prisoners, I managed to resist temptation", he assures.
Due to his work in prison, Craig may have his 11-year sentence reduced by one third and gain his freedom in 2009. The sentence reduction, however, does not please him. "I refused being extradited to England because I would have to serve the rest of my sentence there", he explains. "For me, this would mean admitting guilt – but I am innocent".
So far, Craig’s only victory has been a report issued by the Federal Prosecution Service recommending the progression of his prison regime. According to the document, which will guide the ruling on the habeas corpus requests filed on his behalf, Craig could move into a semi-open prison regime. However, Craig is not yet satisfied. "I want a new trial, and this time I want the right to defense, which was denied to me", he pleads.
Other witnesses contacted by our team have denied the statements in which they accuse Craig Alden of maltreatment and sexual abuse against minors at the orphanage he directed in Planaltina de Goiás. Married to Miguel for 5 years, Daniela*, 19, also appears as an accuser in the case. In the statement she gave to the Prosecution one year before Craig’s arrest, she accused him of being violent and of exhibiting sexual content films to the boys. She now denies such accusations vehemently.
"We were treated well, and I never saw any _ography in the orphanage", she claims. She says she was pressured to speak against Craig during the questioning. "They shouted at me, and made me say things I didn’t mean all the time", she remembers. Daniela’s statement was taken by the Prosecution Service during the investigation stage, and served as a basis for Craig’s arrest order.
For Daniela, Craig’s arrest represents a family trauma. Two of her brothers were sexually abused in the orphanage, but not by Craig – the perpetrators were the same minor offenders who accused Craig. One of her brothers, Roberto*, still lives in Planaltina and admits having been a victim of sexual assault by William and Bruno. "They would take me to the bathroom and make me drop my trousers", he confesses. "At the time, I said nothing because they threatened to beat us".
DEFENSELESS – According to Roberto, aged 18 today, at least 3 other minors were molested by the young delinquents. "Craig never did anything to us", he affirms. Roberto was never summoned to speak, neither at the Prosecution Office nor at the Planaltina Court. William and Bruno, however, are cited in the records as Craig’s victims and main accusers. "There is something very strange in the way this case was handled, to say the least", concludes Aldo de Campos Costa, one of the lawyers defending Craig. He adds that Craig was only convicted because he was assisted by unskilled defense lawyers during most of the trial.
Aldo’s thesis is supported by cases such as that of Renato Maciel da Silva, 21. He is cited in the proceedings as having suffered sexual abuse by Craig since the age of 12. Although he is described as Craig’s main victim, he was never summoned to give statements, neither by the accusation, nor by the defense. "I am willing to undergo a medical examination to confirm that I have never been molested", reiterates Renato. "I even saw William raping another child, and cannot understand why I came out of the story as a victim".
English prisoner in Planaltina claims
Accused of sexual abuse, former head of orphanage tries to prove his innocence
By Wellton Máximo
Locked up in an improvised cell for solitary confinement in the Planaltina Public Jail, English National Craig Alden, aged 36, is fighting for his dignity. He was arrested three years ago on sexual charges and maltreatment against the minors living in the Abrigo Warboys do Brasil, a local orphanage he headed from 1991 to 2002. In a hunger strike for the past 27 days, far from his wife and 10-year-old son, Craig claims he was a victim of a "set-up" and wants to prove his innocence.
Craig, who was initially given a 49-year prison sentence – later reduced to 11, sees fasting as the last resource to draw the Brazilian authorities’ attention to his case. He wants a new trial, or at least a ruling on some of the habeas corpus requests filed at the Federal Supreme Court, Higher Court of Justice and the Goiás State Court of Justice.
Craig’s only victory so far has been a formal opinion issued by the Federal Prosecution Service recommending the progression of his prison regime. Even though there is now a chance for him to move into a semi-open regime, Craig is not satisfied and claims there were irregularities in the trial that resulted in his conviction in November 2002. Some alleged victims and even accusation witnesses deny any sort of maltreatment or sexual offence by Mr Alden.
Many people who appeared as victims in the process are only mentioned in the court file, without being called to testify in court. "The accusations are all testimonial and no medical tests were ever done", observes Gustavo Carvalho, one of Craig’s lawyers. "Craig only was convicted because he had bad lawyers at the beginning of the process".
Mr. Renato Maciel da Silva, 21, is described throughout the case as Craig’s main victim, allegedly having suffered sexual abuse since the age of 12. However, he claims he was never heard in court. According to the court records, the boy had constant rows with Craig, and once went around the orphanage shouting that he had sex with him. However, Renato vehemently denies the accusations. "I see Craig as the father I never had, and visit him every week in prison", he adds.
PRESSURE – Renato says he was only questioned once at the local Security Operations Integrated Centre – CIOPS (Centro Integrado de Operações Especiais) on the day of the arrest. "I was pressured to speak against Craig, but I denied everything and was never called again for another statement", he explains. At the time, Renato was 18 and spent most weekends at Craig’s house. "I slept in the living-room, not in his bedroom, as say the court records", he affirms.
Renato’s brother, Jaime Maciel da Silva, aged 19, also denies the allegation that he was sexually abused by Craig. "They said I spent the night at Craig’s and had shaky legs the following morning; in fact, I slept in the living-room and was in pain as a result of having fallen off a horse a few days before", he points out. Jaime is willing to repeat all this in court if he is summoned.
Disagreements with the institution
Craig Alden directed the Abrigo Warboys for 11 years, and for most of this time he had a difficult relationship with local authorities in Planaltina de Goiás. Former orphanage residents and volunteers report that there were disagreements between Mr. Alden and the local Prosecution Service and Minors Guardianship Council.
According to Craig, the orphanage was initially meant to house children up to the age of 12, but was later forced by local authorities to accept minors up to 16 years old. Mr Alden’s friends say that such disagreements worsened with time.
"They wanted to turn the orphanage in a juvenile prison", claims former volunteer Maria Inês Bernardo, 43. She has been a friend of Craig’s for over 10 years, and took part in a public demonstration in his support yesterday morning in front of the public gaol.
Craig accuses the state government of overcrowding the orphanage, and failing to provide resources for basic expenses such as meals for the children. "Due to our extreme conditions, we returned juvenile offenders to the Prosecution or to their parents", says Craig. According to some former accusers and alleged victims, when one of such minors was returned to his family in May 2002, he swore he would return to "destroy" Craig.
Mr. Francisco Pinto, President of the Planaltina Minors Guardianship Council at the time of Mr Alden’s arrest, was not found by our team. The Prosecutor responsible for the case, Ms Maria Aparecida Amorim, did not return our calls. Her office informed us that she is now acting in family law cases and can no longer respond for that case.
To regain his freedom, Craig Alden has also started a diplomatic battle. He has even applied for Presidential Expulsion, an act through which he would be deported to England, without having to serve his remaining sentence. The Brazilian Government has denied his request and offered extradition as an alternative. Mr Alden, however, did not accept the prospect of another 8 years in prison in England. "According to these terms, I would be admitting a guilt that is not mine", says Craig.
A letter sent by UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to Ambassador Celso Amorim, Brazil’s Foreign Minister, confirms the British Government’s interest in Craig’s situation. In the letter, Jack Straw affirms that a UK Government lawyer reported irregularities in the way the case was conducted. "The right to a fair trial under international law was not respected", says the letter.
Mr. Rob Luke, Second Secretary at the British Embassy in Brasilia, acknowledges the involvement of the British Government in the case, but assures that his country cannot interfere in the Brazilian Judiciary’s sovereignty. "Our main concern is Craig’s health and safety, especially in a situation such as a hunger strike", he explains.
Through its Press Office, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice, the government department in charge of foreign prisoners in Brazil, says that Craig will only be able to leave the country after serving his 11-year sentence. But as he is rendering internal services in prison, he may have his sentence reduced by one third.
Accusers say they have been coerced
Other alleged victims say they have been coerced to make statements against Craig. Geraldo*, 17, says that he was locked up for 4 hours in a CIOPS cell on the day of the arrest, and was denied even water. He was only allowed to leave after signing a statement he couldn’t even read. The young man, who only reached elementary school level, was present during the trial but never said a word. "The Prosecutor simply went through the previous statement and asked me to sign it again", he recalls.
Only months later would Geraldo become aware of what he had signed. According to the court records, not only did he hear reports of paedophilia from his colleagues, but he also allowed Craig put his hands inside his pants one night. "This is ridiculous and never took place", he protests. The young man wrote retraction letters to be used in a justification action at the Planaltina Court. If the judge accepts the changes in the statement, the defense may file for criminal review at the Federal Supreme Court.
Craig and the above-mentioned victims recognise the occurrence of sexual abuse in the orphanage. However, they claim that the acts were committed by two residents, aged 15 and 16 at the time, who already had a police record. They were staying at the orphanage by determination of the local Prosecution and Minors Guardianship Council, and are accused of having physically assaulted and molested four children aged 11 and 12, two of whom are now dead.
ACCUSATIONS – These two youngsters, whose current whereabouts are unknown, allege they were molested by Craig. According to the defense, the accusation took place as retaliation. "I saw when one of them was expelled from the orphanage and promised to ruin Craig’s reputation", remembers Geraldo. Both he and Renato affirm they saw the two minor delinquents raping the children. "I immediately hit one of them and reported the fact to the head of the orphanage. "The funny thing is that I was later accused by them of being Craig’s lover."
Aline Brito, 19, lived in the orphanage from the age of 7 to the age of 16. She is cited in the case as having been beaten on Craig’s order, but she also denies it. "I don’t know where they got this idea – he always treated me well, and gave me a home". Aline didn’t appear in court – she only gave her statement at the CIOPS on the day of the arrest. At the time, she denied any maltreatment, but recognises having signed the statement without reading it.
* name changed to protect identity
Follow us ...
Conselho Nacional de Justiça
Presidência da República - Secretaria Especial dos Direitos Humanos
Ministério das Relações Exteriores
Procuradoria Geral da República - Ministério Público Federal
Departamento de Policia Federal - DPF
Comissão de Direitos Humanos da Câmara Federal
Association Internationale de Droit Pénal
Association in Defense of the Wrongfully Convicted
Fair Trials Abroad / Justice à l'étranger
CEN News : In Depth : Our campaign to free Craig Alden
Foreign Prisoners Support Service
House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 14 Nov 2005 (pt 27)
Investigation Into The Arrest And Imprisonment Of Craig Eliot Alden