Aprígio Santos sentenced to 2 years for an environmental crime in the Ria de Alvor

Businessman Aprígio Santos has just been sentenced to two years in prison, with suspended sentence, for an environmental crime and […]

Businessman Aprígio Santos has just been sentenced to two years in prison, with suspended sentence, for an environmental crime and repeated disobedience in the Ria de Alvor, in a sentence handed down by the Criminal Court of Portimão.

The businessman, as administrator of the company Butwell Trading, Serviços e Investimentos SA, which owns Quinta da Rocha, in the heart of the Ria de Alvor, was also sentenced to pay a fine, payable in six months, of 150 thousand euros, which should revert in favor of Associação Almargem.

The case dates back to 2006, when on March 13, Associação A Rocha, which is headquartered in the Ria de Alvor, made the first complaint to the authorities about the destruction, by machines at the service of Butwell, of vast areas of marshland and another vegetation cover at Quinta da Rocha, areas under the responsibility of the Natura Network due to the importance of their habitats.

Despite the accusations that followed, and the instigation of at least nine administrative infraction proceedings by the Commission for Regional Coordination and Development, the owners of Quinta da Rocha continued to carry out the mining, harrowing and removal of vegetation, altering vast areas of the property.

One of these mines was even being carried out at the end of the afternoon of a day in November 2007 when leaders of the A Rocha Association and the League for the Protection of Nature visited the site, accompanied by senior officials from the Nature Conservation Institute – the director of the Department of Hazardous Areas Management in the South João Alves and by the director of the Department of Hazardous Areas of Wetlands Maria João Burnay -, who immediately witnessed the illegal works in progress there.

It was these successive disobediences to the embargoes of the work and to the injunction meanwhile accepted by the Administrative Court of Loulé that led the Public Ministry to initiate two criminal proceedings, one against Aprígio Santos as director of Butwell, the other against the company itself. The now known lower court decision has to do with the first process.

There is still another case going on against Butwell, in the Administrative and Tax Court of Loulé.

O Sul Informação he is now trying to contact Aprígio Santos or his representatives, to find out their reaction to this conviction in court and to find out whether or not they intend to appeal.

The Butwell company even presented, for Quinta da Rocha, a development project which it called «agri-environmental tourism».

The project included, namely, the recovery of agricultural support, as well as the 18 houses allegedly existing in the 200 hectares of the property, with the relocation of some of them being considered. In total, there would be about 5 thousand square meters of construction.

It was also planned to reactivate the old salt pans, which have long been transformed into marshes, and to install extensive fish farms in the wetlands of the property. This project, in particular, was immediately opposed by the bivalve nurseries of the Ria de Alvor, who were concerned about the effects of possible pollution caused by fish farms.