Brazilian pastor condemned to prison for spanking children, loses mind
AMAZONAS, Brazil, March 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Brazilian pastor from the nation’s Amazonas region has become mentally ill following his imprisonment for spanking his two daughters, according to local media reports. Until recently the pastor was reportedly handcuffed to a prison hospital bed, where he was forced even to go to the bathroom in front of staff.
Jeremias Albuquerque Rocha, who just turned 26, was an active Evangelical minister in the town of Carauari until May of last year, when a child protective services agent denounced him for spanking his children, for which he was accused of “torture.”
Despite a lack of any physical evidence submitted to the judge, Rocha was placed in preventative detention, in a prison cell so crowded that he was forced to stand during the day, and had to sleep crouched on the floor, which was covered in cardboard.
Months passed without a resolution. No doctor’s report documenting physical harm was ever presented, nor any bodily examination confirming injury - proofs that are required by law. By August, Rocha had reportedly begun to weep and faint within his cell. When he was taken to a nearby hospital and diagnosed with mental illness, Judge Jânio Tutomu Takeda refused to believe it, claiming Rocha was “faking it,” and ordered him handcuffed to the hospital bed.
Judge Takeda reportedly ignored physicians’ reports as Rocha continued to deteriorate. On December 9, doctors issued two reports on Rocha, diagnosing him with “serious panic attacks and profound depression, suicidal attempts” and recommending that he have his handcuffs removed and be transferred to a specialized psychiatric facility. Another similar report was issued on January 21 of this year, noting Rocha’s serious condition and recommending house arrest or removal to a specialized unit.
Despite the pleading of his doctors, Rocha was left handcuffed to the bed until February 2, when his father filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus and a formal complaint with the Amazonas human rights commission. Although the handcuffs were removed, he reportedly still has marks on both his wrists and feet and remains in serious condition.
“Last week, more precisely on the third of March, Jeremias Albuquerque Rocha, who two years ago was an evangelical minister in Carauari, a municipality 786 kilometers from Manaus, turned 26 years old, but he was unaware of the fact,” the Portal do Holanda newspaper reported early this month. “Jeremias doesn’t remember his own birthday, and has difficulty remembering his name. His state is catatonic. He stares at the ceiling or the floor. He remains permanently silent, except for the moments in which he begins to panic, pleading for them not to handcuff him or passing hours in repeated crises of convulsive weeping.”
When Amazonas Human Rights Commission President Epitácio da Silva Almeida arrived on March 3 to examine Rocha and investigate the case, Judge Takeda suddenly announced that he had already passed sentence in February, although the file was reportedly nowhere to be found and the verdict had never been announced. Takeda said he had found Rocha guilty and sentenced him to six and a half years of prison.
Almeida says he plans to initiate legal proceedings against Takeda, and the president of the Amazonas Tribunal of Justice, João Simões, has also promised to take legal action in the case, following his own investigation.
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