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FREE CRAIG ALDEN
An international campaign to free a Briton sentenced to 46 years in jail in Brazil has been launched after claims he was framed for sexually abusing children.

Craig Alden, 33, ran an orphanage for street children in Planaltina de Goias, which was hailed as a model philanthropic project in the developing world. Speaking from his cell in Planaltina, 40 miles from Brasilia, he said he was the victim of a vendetta after refusing to kowtow to corrupt and unprofessional local authorities.

" I've been very naive," he said. "I now realise how easy it is here for Brazilians to wind a foreigner round their little finger." Prominent members of the international diplomatic community in Brasilia believe he is innocent and are campaigning for his release. The British pressure group Fair Trials Abroad has taken up the case. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Brazil's secretary of state for human rights, has also said he will send a representative to Planaltina to investigate the situation.

Alden, from Warboys in Cambridgeshire, founded and ran Abrigo Warboys Brazil, which has looked after more than 400 children over 13 years.

He was taken into custody on July 1 and convicted last month on charges of abusing five children. The only evidence of the crime was the alleged victims' testimony. Two of the boys later retracted their statements - one by letter and one in court - although this evidence was dismissed by the sentencing judge.

" At the very least all this contradictory evidence shows that there is a reasonable doubt in the accusations," said Aldo de Campos Costa, Alden's lawyer. "There have been problems right from the start with the way the attorney and the police have handled this case." Mr Costa said the accusations stemmed from a former resident of the orphanage, who was expelled by Alden and spread made-up stories in revenge. "You have to bear in mind that these youngsters were brought up living on the streets - with no direction, no family, no future - their minds are very open to suggestion."

This week in Planaltina, a poor dormitory town of Brasilia with a population of 80,000, the Guardian met one of the prosecution's main witnesses, Maria Luiza Souza e Silva, a former vice-president of the orphanage.

In court she made leading comments about Alden's sexuality and about the possibility of his having relations with the children in his care. But when asked this week if she had ever seen anything that would lead her to believe that he was sexually abusing any of the children, she said: "I never noticed anything that would suggest [this]. In my heart I don't believe [that he is guilty]."

THE FACTS
Craig Alden was arrested and jailed on July 1st 2002, charged with abuse and neglect of children under his care at the Abrigo Warboys Orphanage in Planaltina Goias, Brazil.

Prosecuted by Local Officials who Craig had challenged in previous court actions

Craig Alden, a British Citizen, was convicted in early November and sentenced to 48 years imprisonment to be served in the local civil prison in Planaltina.

Craig Alden did not have a defence submitted on his behalf because his original lawyer missed a statutory deadline that exists in Brazil for a defence statement to be lodged.

Vital defence evidence proving the charges to be false [defence witness statements, voluntary retraction of statements from alleged ‘victims’ and medical evidence] was ignored by the judge.

In the Judge’s summing up statement she states that Craig’s lawyer did not attend all of the hearings, that she failed to submit a defence statement, that said lawyer did not remain in the courtroom during the hearings and that said lawyer is now subject to investigation for her actions in this case. The judge concluded that the charges were ‘proven’ on the basis of the prosecution case alone.

It should be noted that Craig has had a well documented dispute with the local government officials directly involved in his case [specifically the Prosecutor and Judge] in that he has resisted their plans to use the Abrigo as a holding centre for drug users and child prostitutes. Craig has consistently refused to accept such individuals because he felt that the children within the orphanage would have been put at risk.
The local Prosecutor in this case has recently sought to have the sentence increased beyond the current 48 years as she feels that it is insufficient punishment for the crimes in question. This action has been greeted with incredulity by ministers within the Federal Government in Brazil.

LATEST NEWS

December 2006
Craig Alden Update

At the end of November I once again packed my bags and headed for Brazil. This time I met up with Ros Bowles. We were delighted to be met at the airport in Brasilia by Craig. This was my first visit since Craig was granted 'semi-aberto' and I must confess to being delighted at the thought of not having to visit Planaltina and the prison, although mindful that Craig still had to return to the dreadful conditions there every evening. Craig is looking well if a little thin - but he assures me that he is recovering well and gaining strength following the hunger strike and his severe bout of pneumonia. This is an extract from one of his letters

"I am living moment by moment …..In doing that, I have been walking all over Brasilia, with no particular objectives nor destiny, feeling the sun on my body, smelling the smells of the streets with all their flowers and trees, walking on dry leaves….cycling everywhere, especially around the park where I often do some 27km. [Note: Brasilia has a wonderful park which stretches miles and caters for every activity] My stamina has increased ….after having been inside for so long, I'm out all the time"

Craig's wife and son were able to spend the weekend with us so it was wonderful to have some real 'family' time. Craig and John were able to use the hotel swimming pool and we enjoyed having meals together. Simple everyday things but they meant so much under the circumstances.

You will remember that when Craig had pneumonia and was unable to return to the prison - the local Judicial authorities sought to have his 'semi-aberto' regressed and for him to be returned to prison. After much worry and two hearings, when x-rays and Doctors notes were produced. The Prison Director defended Craig, stating that he had told Craig to stay away from the prison and also petitioned the Judge that the prison did not have the facilities for semi-aberto prisoners, Craig was finally told in no uncertain terms that his lawyer and the prison should have notified the Judge of his absence, that she was in charge and that the slightest misdemeanour would see him back in prison. Craig reported that the Judge's attitude was openly hostile and rude to both himself and his lawyer.

In the last update I described the cell conditions which Craig has to endure - much worse in fact than when he was locked up! The rainy season (which lasts about 4 months) has seen Craig's cell flooded on several occasions and more often than not his bedding is soaking (he has no means of drying it), slugs, mould and frogs inhabit the damp atmosphere. There is no drainage so nowhere for the water to go. In fact it was so bad on one occasion that a guard took an iron bar and broke a hole in the concrete floor to let the water out. Unfortunately it also let in the rats! Despite all that - Craig says that the prison staff are doing their best for him and they have a great deal of sympathy for him - but they are constrained in the means of altering things by lack of finance and the authority of the local court and Judge.

We had a meeting with Craig's lawyer and he appraised us of the applications he has made to the Court for Craig to have the Retraction Statements accepted as evidence for the Criminal Revision. So far all rejected. The lawyer states that this is against Craig's Constitutional Rights. Craig has the absolute right to produce evidence via the Judicial process.

Craig has also been denied the right to work on Saturdays, to attend a study course, and to have leave to see his family. The lawyer states that denial is expressly against his earned right in the Supreme Court for progression and also against the law. He has never before seen such decisions and is now convinced that Craig is being discriminated against by the Judicial system.

I was unable to see the Ambassador since he had a very busy schedule and both Consul and Vice-Consul were away. I wrote to the Ambassador enclosing the information from the lawyer and asking the British Authorities to protest at this discrimination against a British citizen. This was delivered by us to the Embassy but so far there has been no response. The Brazilians really cannot be allowed to continually state that the Judicial system will sort everything out when they are blatantly ignoring such perversion of Justice.

Apparently both the Judge and Promotora have left town - apparently after having received threats. The Promotora has left before but unfortunately has always returned.

A Brazilian Human Rights group - Eyelegal - who have been monitoring Craig's case for some time now have a lengthy expose of Craig's case on their Website. I have seen it and it is very comprehensive but have been unable to access it from my computer for some reason.

Many thanks to you all from Craig and myself for all your support and for the letters and donations we have received. It is all very much appreciated. We are so lucky to have such wonderful supporters. Thanks too, to those of you who have already sent Christmas cards to President Lula, Tony Blair and Craig. If you haven't already done so - check the website for addresses or contact me (it really doesn't matter that the recommended posting date has passed - they will still make the point)

Craig, myself and everyone concerned with the Campaign wish you all a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and Every Good Wish for the New Year.

Maureen Alden

------------------------------------------------------------

9 Apr 2006
Craig Alden Update

Dear Friends
Simon Trundle and I have just returned from a further trip to Brazil.

I usually do a complete report of our trip but this time the news of the Supreme Court hearing reached home before we did and was reported on before I could update everyone.

As a consequence I returned to find many telephone and email messages asking for confirmation of the reports. I apologise for not replying to them all individually and therefore I will report here, solely on the Supreme Court hearing and the possible consequences.

The Habeas Corpus was heard on Tuesday 4th April before 5 Judges in the Supreme Court (Highest Court in Brazil).

It was a two part hearing - the first part consisting of ten points and asking for a retrial on the basis of (amongst other things) no defence. There was little discussion and the decision given was what we had expected. Basically that the Brazilian Judicial System had done everything it should. Craig had had a lawyer and that was all that was required to ensure a fair trial! This is the last time these arguments can be presented.

The second part of the hearing was to ask for 'Progressive Regime' for Craig - following the change of law regarding the Heinous Crime Law. This was approved for Craig by the unanimous vote of all five Judges. This judgement was faxed immediately from the Supreme Court to the Planaltina Court where the local Judge is responsible for the implementation of the judgement.

This progression should be immediate as Craig has served more than the required portion of his sentence in 'closed regime' and has all the other required elements to qualify, namely good behaviour (the prison Director had written an excellent report on Craig - stating that he was a model prisoner, hardworking, polite and friendly etc.,) However - the lawyers did warn us that the Promotora would almost certainly oppose the implementation and whilst the Supreme Court ruling could not be contested or overruled - the process could be delayed! They expected that the paperwork would take at least a week. It has to be said that Craig's lawyers are permanently optimistic and another source has informed us that there is no statutory time limit for a lower court to implement an order from the Supreme Court and that if the delays are stretched out we may have to file a further Habeas Corpus in the Supreme Court to progess! This of course could take months!

The first part of this 'progressive regime' would allow Craig to live outside the prison between the hours of 6am and 8pm (or perhaps 8am to 6pm - not quite sure which!), with certain conditions attached. However this requires that the prison has facilities for accommodating a 'semi-aberto' prisoner which Planaltina does not. We understand that the Director has offered Craig a 'cupboard' as a sleeping place as he needs Craig's present cell' for administration. Craig's lawyers are to try to get his regime progressed to 'aberto' - which would mean that he has to sign on at a police station once a week. This might also mean that he could move out of the area of Planaltina to Brasilia where we, the Embassy and the lawyers feel he would be much safer.

In addition to this we understand that once on 'progressive regime' Craig will be required to pay fines for the supposed 'crimes'. I have to get this confirmed by the lawyers but if true this would seem to be another huge injustice. Non-payment of fines is punishable by imprisonment in Planaltina Prison!!

Lord Triesman was also on a visit to Brasilia and was meeting Minister Amorim, Brazilian Foreign Minister, the day after the Supreme Court hearing. I therefore sent a message to him saying that as the Court obviously didn't regard Craig as a danger to anyone, I would like him to ask the Brazilian Govt. to now consider releasing Craig to the UK.

We visited Craig the day after this judgement and he was cautiously pleased but wary of further disappointment and delay. After about half an hour of discussing the various situations he finally seemed to believe it might happen and when he smiled his eyes finally lit up! The first time I had seen the haunted look leave his eyes in all this time!

Although this may be a considerable step forward for Craig - it in no way addresses the injustice Craig has suffered and which the Brazilians seem either unable to understand or determined to ignore.

Therefore - our Campaign will continue!
Once again my thanks to you all for your constant help and support.
Maureen Alden


13 November 2005
Craig is on Hunger Strike

Craig is continuing on his hunger strike [started on 1st November] and is determined he will not take solid food until he sees positive action in his case from his government. He is taking liquids at present but is threatening to stop drinking if he does not see progress in his case. Craig asked that 'prime minister Tony Blair call President Lula da Silva and request in person a retrial for me or my return to my family as I am innocent and unjustly imprisoned in Brazil'. Craig has also recently learned that 6 children previously cared for at the Abrigo Warboys home that he ran before his arrest have been killed on the streets and so he sees his protest as a means of achieving justice for these victims as much as for himself.


13 November 2005
Protest Day 7th November 2005

The protest at Downing Street and at the Brazilian embassy was attended by more than 100 people who came from all over the country.  A petition was handed in at both locations accompanied by a letter from Maureen Alden appealing to Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Lula da Silva to release Craig based on the legal reviews of his case which have concluded that he is an innocent man unjustly imprisoned in Brazil. 


01 September 2005
Brazil Rejects Appeal For Release Of Craig

The Brazilian Government are apparently refusing to comply with a request from the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to release a British Citizen unjustly imprisoned in Brazil - although an official written response has still not been received. The family of Craig Alden have been informed that Brazil will not return Craig Alden to the UK on the basis that he has a Brazilian dependent [son] - his son has dual nationality so is also a British Citizen. The Brazilian Justice Minister says their decision is not open to discussion. Brazil have as yet ignored responding to the multiple breaches of human rights and legal incompetence already identified in Craig's case.


The family of Craig Alden are distraught at this decision having had to fight for more than 2 1/2 years before the UK Foreign Office acted by providing an independent Queen' s Counsel to review the case. The QC found that Craig was illegally imprisoned and denied his right to a fair trial where in the QC' s opinion he could have proven himself innocent.

The Foreign Office have been incompetent in the way in which they have handled this case even to the point where the report from the independent QC was withheld from the Foreign Secretary for over 4 months. Over the past 3 years the FO have advised against media coverage of this case because of the fear that the Brazilian Government might become upset! The Alden family now see that the media blackout has not helped and they are to tell their story

The Alden family blames the FCO for not acting sooner in this case of obvious injustice which would have avoided the current breakdown in UK-Brazilian relations over the London shooting. The Foreign Office have also compounded the situation by issuing an incorrect press statement implying that Craig was guilty and wanted to return home to a nicer prison. The Alden family is demanding an immediate retraction of this incorrect and damaging statement and public confirmation from the Foreign Office that the true facts in the case are that the appeal to Brazil was for the return of a British citizen unjustly imprisoned and denied basic Human Rights in Brazil.

01 July 2005
No way forward with legal process

It has sadly become evident through the way that the legal appeal process is conducted in Brazil, that Craig is unlikely ever to receive redress through the Brazilian legal system. The new focus for the campaign is therefore to achieve Craig's release and return to the UK by requesting a Presidential expulsion order.

The British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw wrote in April 2005 to the Brazilian Foreign Minister requesting that the Brazilian Government review the case of Craig Alden a British Citizen imprisoned in Brazil and backing his request for a Presidential expulsion order, so that Craig may be returned to his family in the UK.

The Foreign Secretary acted in response to the findings of an eminent UK Queen's Counsel. These findings are set out in two independent legal reviews which state amongst other things 'that the conviction of Craig Alden is completely unsafe and that a grave miscarriage of justice has been done' and 'There are grave breaches of basic human rights in relation to the basic requirements of a fair trial. Craig Alden was not given a fair trial by any internationally recognised standards'.

The Queen's Counsel initially formed his opinion based on his review of the court papers relating to this case. So concerned was he regarding the breaches of human rights and lack of right to a fair trial that he subsequently travelled to Brazil to interview Craig in his cell and talk to his Brazilian Lawyers.

Despite the evidence presented to the Brazilian Government in the independent legal reviews, the Brazilian Government have so far not responded to the Expulsion request nor to the Foreign Secretary's letter. It is feared that Brazil will deny the request and as media enquiries grow we may be forced to take the publicity path to help gain Craig's release from this unlawful imprisonment. The BBC have expressed interest in Craig's case and have asked to see copies of the documentation.

Every supporter is asked to write on a regular basis to the UK Foreign Secretary The Right Honourable Jack Straw at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London and to the Brazilian Ambassador [see details below] asking for the release and return of Craig Alden to the United Kingdom.

In the interim Craig continues to fear for his life. Please write to him via the email link on this website. It is important that we maintain contact with Craig and help to show the local authorities in Planaltina that he is not forgotten.

We ask supporters to continue to support the on-line petition and have your friends sign it as well so we can keep the pressure going on this case for Craig.


01 September 2004
Latest News

Efforts are continuing to seek the release of Craig Alden from unlawful imprisonment in Brazil and every supporter is asked to write on a regular basis to the UK Foreign Secretary The Right Honourable Jack Straw and to the Brazilian Ambassador [see details below] asking that they fight on behalf of the Alden family to gain the release of Craig Alden as he has been imprisoned without a defence or fair trial.

Craig's health is not good at present as he is suffering from stomach upsets and is therefore losing weight as well as suffering headaches. Craig continues to fear for his life and he asks for you to write to him via the email link on this website as this is what is keeping him going. It is important that we maintain contact with Craig and help to show the local authorities in Planaltina that he is not forgotten.

Please write again to Jack Straw and the Brazilian authorities even if you have written in the past as we must keep this case in the headlines if we are to achieve his release


01 April 2004
Latest News

1: Brazilian Foreign Ministry Issue Response Which Contains Incorrect Statements and Inaccuracies Which Could Damage Craig's Case. FOLLOW THIS LINK

2: Right To Further Appeal Denied

The latest appeals to the STF and STJ have been stopped from proceeding by the Goiania state judiciary because they do not consider them 'necessary' . In effect this means that the appeal process is terminated at present and Craig' s case will go forward to the Criminal Revision stage. This is bad news in that the state court has denied Craig' s right to appeal further. If an appeal is filed against this decision it could delay the process by up to another 2 years, if not filed it might bring forward the Criminal Revision.
The justice system in Brazil allows appeals on points of law to the State Court and the Supreme Court both of which have debated the legalities of Craig' s case and refused to dissolve the charges against him. All appeals have been strictly on points of law - no review or presentation of evidence in his case.
The Brazilian appeals system is slow and laborious with appeals having to be filed in the lower court before being taken to the Supreme Court. The Criminal Revision process, where all evidence both for the prosecution and the defence is reviewed in detail takes place after the 'conviction' is confirmed at the end of the 'appeal process'. Craig' s lawyers are hoping to receive redress in the Criminal Revision stage and to gain his release however this process could take more than three years to conclude. The Prosecutor is likely to want to defend her original actions and challenge every stage of the Criminal Revision process. There is also the serious concern for Craig' s safety in the local prison before and during the Criminal Revision stage when he will be bringing evidence to show that the prosecutor and some other local officials acted illegally in his prosecution. In order to defend against the charges Craig will have to present evidence of alleged collusion and criminal activity by local officials which could place him in severe danger.
The Brazilian government could invoke a little used instrument of exclusion where an executive decision is taken to expel Craig from Brazil to the UK. Craig' s family have little confidence that he will receive justice in the Brazilian courts and are most concerned for Craig' s safety during the next stage of the appeals process. The new focus for the campaign will be to gain Craig' s release and expulsion from Brazil. Maureen Alden will be meeting the UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Tuesday 27th April to appeal to the Foreign Secretary to seek an expulsion order on behalf of the Alden family.
In the interim we ask supporters to continue to support the on-line petition and write to the Brazilian Ambassador
It is important that people continue to sign the petition and have your friends sign it as well so we can keep the pressure going on this case for Craig. Please note there are separate submit buttons for the PETITION and the MESSAGE to Craig. Please submit both if you can, thank you. Please sign the petition NOW and write to your local MP and to the Brazilian Embassy for the attention of:

Ambassador José Mauricio de Figueiredo BUSTANI
Brazilian Embassy London
32 Green Street
London
W1K 7AT
Tel: +44 (0)20 7399-9000
Fax: +44 (0)20 7399-9100
Web: www.brazil.org.uk

Email: info@brazil.org.uk
COPY AND PASTE THE FOLLOWING TEXT INTO YOUR LETTER:
I write to appeal to you, on humanitarian grounds, to support an investigation into the imprisonment of Craig Eliot Alden currently serving a sentence of 48 years at the Civil Prison in Planaltina de Goias, Brazil. Craig was sentenced to 48 years on charges against which he was unable to benefit from a defence because of mistakes made by his legal representatives. I/we appeal to you to campaign on his behalf for a fair re-trial at which evidence to prove his innocence will be presented to the courts.


01 November 2003
Latest News

Craig's habeas corpus application to the Supreme Court in Brasilia has been rejected despite the fact that the habeas corpus was based on sound constitutional principles. In the end the Supreme Court ignored the precedents set in this type of case and changed the constitution where the Prosecutor is allowed to investigate and prosecute a case if it is in connection with the Child Welfare Act. This random reclassification of the role of the Prosecutors Department meant that our habeas corpus had no basis for success.

We must now proceed with additional appeals through the state court in Goiania. An appeal was lodged based on 16 points where the law had been incorrectly applied in Craig’s case however the State Appeal Court ignore 15 of these points and instead reduced Craig’s sentence from 48 years to 11 years. What looked like good news at first became bad news in that the State Appeal Court randomly reclassified Craig’s crimes to a higher classification where he will have to sever 2/3 of the sentence [11 x 2/3 = 8 years] when his original sentence of 48 years was on the basis of a minimum of 1/6th minimum term of 8 years. Therefore despite the reduction in the sentence the time to be served before parole remains at 8 years.

Craig’s lawyers are challenging the fact that the court ignored the 15 points of law and is forcing a decision on these points so that he can appeal them to the higher court. Without a response from the lower court it is not possible to take this case to a higher appeal.

We have learned on 4th November that Craig’s sentence is further reduced to 9 years because the original trial judge had sentenced Craig to 2 years on a charge that was never brought against him! The madness continues……

Craig remains in prison in Planaltina, Brazil and has now served more than 17 months with only four exercise periods since December 2002. Craig briefly lost his single cell status when prisoners were placed in his cell for approximately four weeks. Craig is now once again 'safe' in a single cell in Planaltina prison.

Craig remains determined to fight for his release and is trying to keep up his spirits. Your letters and e-mails play a vitally important role in supporting Craig in his fight and most importantly, your letters to the Brazilian embassy and authorities in Brazil and the UK are keeping the case profile high at a time when some would wish that the whole matter would simply disappear.


01 September 2003
Latest News

Craig's case continues to be examined by the Supreme Court in Brasilia and we are hoping that a decision on the habeas corpus will be heard in November 2003. The process has been delayed due to the legal complexity of the point of law that Craig's habeas corpus is based upon 'that the Prosecutor under Brazilian law is not allowed to conduct a criminal investigation herself/himself as happened in Craig's case. This point of law has been upheld in two previous cases and there is a good hope that Craig can be released because of the illegality of the process that jailed him. This is a difficult political case in Brazil and represents a battle between the Prosecution Authorities and the Supreme Court.

In addition to the HC at the Supreme Court, a second appeal is progressing through the courts in Goiania state that challenges the case on the nature of the evidence that was allowed [hearsay] and importantly on the fact that Craig's defence against the evidence against him was not allowed to be heard because of mistakes made by his lawyer and machinations of the Prosecutor in this case. The Goiania appeal should commence in September 2003 and could in itself lead to Craig's release however Craig's new lawyers see the Supreme Court route to be the most profitable route for this case. We can only hope and pray that Craig will receive justice in the near future.

Craig remains in prison in Planaltina, Brazil and has now served more than 400 days in a single cell with perhaps three exercise periods since December 2002. Craig briefly lost his single cell status when a prisoner was placed in his cell for approximately four weeks. Craig is now once again 'safe' in a single cell in Planaltina prison.

Craig remains determined to fight for his release and is trying to keep up his spirits. Your letters and e-mails play a vitally important role in supporting Craig in his fight and most importantly, your letters to the Brazilian embassy and authorities in Brazil and the UK are keeping the case profile high at a time when some would wish that the whole matter would simply disappear.

Some good news and some bad news:
The authorities in Planaltina have dropped the civil case against Craig [charges relating to his alleged failure in his role as President of the Abrigo]. The object of the civil case was for the local authorities to remove Craig from his position of President of the Abrigo Warboys Orphanage trust along with the other directors and to seize control of the lands and assets. The Prosecutor instead chose to call a public meeting last February [without giving notice outside of Planaltina] at which a secret ballot was held to elect a new President and board of directors to the Abrigo. This new board includes local political figures and also a member of the civil police who attacked Craig in his cell in 2002. The new 'board' have now taken over the Abrigo and rumours abound that it is to be converted into an agricultural college or sold off for the benefit of the local community. We have launched an appeal against this action not least because the notice of the meeting was not properly addressed and the Warboys Project Brazil trust in Cambridgeshire UK [fundraising agency] was not informed of the meeting despite the fact that they have a legal right to have a representative on the board of the Abrigo.
The good news in this situation is that the Supreme Court have called for the papers related to the civil case as they feel the dropping of the civil case has an important implication in their review of the criminal case.

The good news [2]: Maureen Alden and I went to the Brazilian embassy in London with your web petition and met the local Director for Human Rights who was fully aware of the case because of the many letter they have received at the Brazilian embassy in London. It appears that each letter received has to be sent on to the Foreighn Ministry in Brazil and copied to the Ministry of Justice and the National Secretary of Human Rights in Brasilia. We presented the petition [approx 1,200 signatures] and also delivered a letter to President Lula who was visiting the UK. Keep putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboards.

The good news [3]: The UK Foreign Seretary Jak Straw raised Craig's case with the Brazilian Minister for European Affairs who accompanied President Lula on his visit in July. This action, whilst later than wished, is welcomed none the less and hopefully has shown that the UK government is still interested in Craig's wellbeing.

Please keep on checking into the web site on a regular basis and remember to spread news of the web petition to your friends and ask them to write to the authorities [always in a respectful tone please].


01 August 2003
Latest News

Sir Brian Mawhinney PhD.MP. has put down an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons re Craig's case

This House:
"Congratulates Craig Alden on establishing the Abrigo Warboys Brasil (AWB) orphanage in 1991 and on the care and education which it has made available to more than 400 needy children over the years; regrets that local officials sought to place 'unsuitable' children in the AWB for their own reasons; deplores Craig's arrest on highly dubious alleged evidence and the problems of representation and process which he has experienced within the judicial and custodial services; regrets the charges of child abuse levelled against him; thanks the Foreign Office and local consular staff for the assistance they have given to Craig and calls on the Brazilian authorities to ensure that he gets an early habeas corpus hearing before the Brazilian Supreme Court and all the benefits which would flow from the application of internationally accepted standards of legal due process."

The number of the EDM is 1592 dated 15.07.03 in paper no 130 - page 7087

Please write to your MP asking him/her to support this motion and informing him/her of the website.

www.freecraigalden.com

Please pass onto your friends especially those who have a different MP to your own.


01 June 2003
Case was not heard on the 25th June

Unfortunately Craig’s case was not heard on the 25th June after all because the Supreme Court ran out of time and have now adjourned until early August.

Craig was shattered by this news as he had every expectation of being released from jail. He will now serve past his first anniversary.

It is important that people continue to sign the petition and have your friends sign it as well so we can keep the pressure going on this case for Craig.

Please note there are separate submit buttons for the PETITION and the MESSAGE to Craig. Please subit both if you can, thank you.


01 March 2003
Craig remains in prison

Craig remains in prison. He is losing weight and his health is
deteriorating.

Boy (W) is now again living at the Abrigo having been given a house on the site by the Prosecutor for his own use.

Boy (W) has never been investigated for the charges of sexual abuse on the other children in the Abrigo and now works for the Prosecutor in this case.

On a visit to the Abrigo on 30th March 2003 I witnessed teenagers entering the site to visit boy (W) at ‘his’ house and children at the home confirm that drugs are being used in this house and parties were regularly taking place.

Simon Trundle
Pastor
New Life Church

TESTIMONIALS


“ the sentence of Craig Alden to 48 years imprisonment is disgraceful, and, if the Brazilian Courts of Justice cannot correct it, it is right that we should press our Prime Minister, who would press the Foreign Secretary, to try to achieve justice in this matter”
The Rt Hon the Lord Renton, KBE, QC, TD, DL, House of Lords London


During our 4 years in Brazil, working for the Embassy, I have nothing but praise for the work that Craig undertook to vastly improve the lives of those unfortunate children he saved. We met all the children on our visits to the Abrigo and their trips to the Embassy for the Xmas and Easter parties.
We, the Brits and the Brazilians, recognised that Craig provided these children with a “family life” and the stability to improve their circumstances as well as providing the love and care to his son.

When we left Brazil in June 2001 all the children turned up at the airport to wish tia and tio (aunt and uncle) farewell. A very moving moment.
I have three boys myself, all of whom came with us to Brazil and I think I am a fair judge of children’s behaviour. ALL the children from the Abrigo improved beyond recognition during the 4 years we knew them and exhibited all the signs of being cared for to the highest level.

I have spoken to many people, both British and Brazilian who consider Craig’s situation and what he has been through a travesty of justice beyond belief.

We wish you every success in your campaign and our best wishes go to Craig and his family.
Jim and Pauline Jarvie (Alex, Alistair and Jimmy)
Former British Embassy Staff.'


I worked as a volunteer at the Abrigo between 8.1.00 and 11.4.00. I found Craig to be exceptionally hard working with total dedication to the well being of the children in his charge. .......I found his moral standards impeccable and am totally and utterly horrified at the lies and deception that Craig is currently suffering. This is a man of integrity and very high standards'.
Wendy Miller - volunteer at Abrigo

Extracts from report on Wendy's visit:

A Psychiatrist who visited regularly supported children with specialist needs at the Abrigo. During one visit she reported to me that in her experience the children at Abrigo were the healthiest and happiest that she had come across.

Good records were kept on all the children's progress, weight, height etc.,

There were three meals a day - food served typically consisted of -
Breakfast --- Milk and biscuits or milk and cake or milk and a pancake
Lunch --- Fresh vegetables - salad - rice or pasta - brown beans - stew or other meat dish according to what was available
Evening --- Rice or pasta - various dishes

Good personal hygiene was ensured by children showering morning and night.

Sweet corn was grown and pigs fattened also a cow and calf were kept. Children had a football area and park area with swings, slide climbing frames. They were also taken for walks and swimming in the lake. (Pre swimming pool on site)

Children attended school on site - the older children attending a nearby school. All children appeared keen and eager to attend.

Once a month there was a 'birthday party' for the children who had a birthday that month - when volunteers would come with presents and party things.

Extra treats were a visit to town skateboard area or ice cream parlor.

Conclusion: All in all I witnessed the children being cared for and looked after in the best way possible with the facilities and resources that were available. All this has been made possible because of the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of Craig Alden.


''I went out to Brazil and worked at the orphanage for four weeks during March 2000. During this time I never saw anything that led me to believe that any of the kids were being abused in any way. Instead I saw that all of the kids were well looked after, healthy with three meals a day and very happy. While I was there, a health worker that worked for the local authority came to inspect the well being of the children said that they were some of the healthiest kids she had seen living in an orphanage in the area. I feel that what has happened is a downright injustice.......against a man I personally know and whose innocence I support wholeheartedly. I am quite prepared to make a legal statement on Craig's behalf in this matter, and in court if necessary, either in the UK or Brazil'.
Jonathan Scruby - volunteer at Abrigo


"I have been involved, through my job, with Craig and Abrigo Warboys and like most people was tremendously inspired by his work and his dedication. I am dismayed by what has happened to him and what appears to be a clear miscarriage of justice leading to Craig being put in a potentially threatening position"
Ed Bracher - GAP worker


"I joined Craig as a volunteer and was present at the opening of the Abrigo (1992). My age at that time was 54 (I feel this to be relevant due to life experience etc.,) .....I believe these accusations to be false and that Craig is completely innocent of these charges. In my experience I found him to be the most dedicated, hard working, trustworthy and caring young man. I have remained in contact with the Abrigo and have witnessed him give over one third of his life to the Abrigo. I strongly believe this is a miscarriage of justice and that the case should be examined urgently."
Mrs. Jean Berry - volunteer at Abrigo


"I went to work at the Abrigo in Brazil - run by Craig in July-August 2000......Craig is one of the most caring, devoted and hardworking people I have ever met. My time spent at the children's home showed me just how devoted he actually is. The children's welfare was Craig's main priority and from what I could see Craig would do (and did) everything within his means to raise, care for and provide for each and everyone of them. The children at the home see Craig as their uncle or father, the man who has given them everything a REAL father should. Craig is a man who has devoted his whole life to these children and to their basic human needs. He has clothed, fed and educated these children and given them the right to a life which they otherwise may never have had. The children that Craig cares for have come from extremely deprived backgrounds, some of them beaten and kept in terrible conditions before coming to the Abrigo.

During my time at the Abrigo I never once felt the children show Craig any negative feelings or attitude, only a genuine love and respect. They all seemed relaxed and happy around Craig and enjoyed spending time with him. What struck me so strongly was the absolute trust between the children and Craig. These children along with Craig's own young son, have now lost the one person in their lives they could depend upon.

I have absolute faith and belief that Craig Alden is innocent."
Sarah Robilliard - Volunteer at Abrigo


"I was one of two GAP boys who were at the Abrigo Warboys, Brazil from February to the start of July 2002. I was at the Abrigo the unfortunate day that Craig was arrested, which was the day we were due to depart.

The Abrigo was not just an amazing place for its appearance. It was special because of the way it was being run. Everything was for the benefit of the kids. It was like one big family. It was always obvious that the kids appreciated everything Craig did and loved him as a father figure in their lives. They all wanted his attention, all of the time.

Both James and I became firm friends with Craig. We spent a lot of evenings going up to his house for dinner, talking, relaxing, discussing plans and ideas for the Abrigo. We couldn't have wished for a better person to work with. He is an amazing person who has made a huge influence in my life. He has my utmost respect for all he has done and achieved.

I have always believed and always will believe that Craig is completely and utterly innocent. Knowing him as well as we had come to do, he could never do that to any of the kids. He just wouldn't. All of the things that have been made up about him are completely ridiculous. He is innocent."
Edward Box - GAP volunteer 2002 - Joint winner of award presented by Princess Anne The Princess Royal - for outstanding overseas voluntary service at the Abrigo Warboys


From February to June 2000 I was a volunteer in Abrigo Warboys helping Craig to look after the children. Throughout that time there was no question of Craig abusing the children. He managed to keep the home running despite little support for the local authorities and having a constant struggle for funds. I have no doubt of Craig's integrity and his innocence.
Justin Davidson - volunteer helper at Abrigo Warboys


Ispent nearly four years in Brasilia, during this time I visited a few orphanages as part of the British Embassy’s different charitable projects. The children at Abrigo Warboys were by far the happiest and best adjusted of all the children I saw. This was the only orphanage I felt comfortable taking my young daughter to. My abiding memory of these visits is of happy children enjoying life.

I now work with people who have been abused and neglected and the difference in persona is so marked I find it impossible to believe that the children in Craig’s care were anything but well cared for.

I wish you every luck in freeing Craig and only hope that he is able to return to the excellent work he was doing.

Neil Russell - Former British Vice Consul, Brasilia

 

 

REPORTS

1. Extract of report prepared by Simon Trundle, Pastor of New Life Church following investigative visits to Planaltina in November/December 2002 and March 2003

Craig Alden was arrested on July 1st 2002 and charged with abuse and neglect of children under his care at the Abrigo Warboys Orphanage in Planaltina Goias, Brazil.

Craig Alden, a British Citizen, was convicted in early November and sentenced to 48 years imprisonment to be served in the local civil prison in Planaltina.

Craig Alden did not have a defence submitted on his behalf because his original lawyer missed a statutory deadline that exists in Brazil for a defence statement to be lodged on behalf of a defendant. Vital defence evidence proving the charges to be false [defence witness statements, voluntary retraction of statements from alleged ‘victims’ and medical evidence] was ignored by the judge because the deadline for a defence was passed. This is clearly stated in the Judge’s summing up statement where it states that Craig’s lawyer [Dr Maria Christina dos Santos] did not attend all of the hearings, that she failed to submit a defence statement, that said lawyer did not remain in the courtroom during the hearings that she did attend and that said lawyer is now subject to investigation for her actions in this case. The judge concluded that the charges were ‘proven’ on the basis of the prosecution case alone.

It should be noted that Craig has had a well documented dispute with the local government officials directly involved in his case [specifically the Prosecutor and Judge] in that he has resisted their plans to use the Abrigo as a holding centre for drug users and child prostitutes. Craig has consistently refused to accept such individuals because he felt that the children within the orphanage would have been put at risk.

The local Prosecutor in this case has recently sought to have the sentence increased beyond the current 48 years as she feels that it is insufficient punishment for the crimes in question. This action has been greeted with incredulity by ministers within the Federal Government in Brazil, leading one senior minister to state that he considers the charges to have been a ‘set up’ and that Craig was ‘lynched’ by the local Prosecutor and that the application to increase the sentence shows the arrogance of the Prosecutor.

2. Finding Of Visit To Brazil 4th – 7th December 2002
Following my initial investigation in early November, I returned to Brazil with Maureen Alden, mother of Craig Alden, on the 4th December 2002. The following text summarises the content of several meetings with Craig and also with senior British Embassy and Brazilian Government ministers.

2.1 British Embassy
On our arrival in Brazil we met with HMA Sir Roger Bone and Andrew Soper, Deputy Head of Mission.
The embassy had arranged meetings with senior officials at the Ministry of Justice and with Marcello Jardim, General Secretary for European Affairs.
Andrew Soper accompanied Maureen Alden and myself to the meetings with Marcello Jardim, Director General – European Affairs and Antonio De Freitas, Secretary National de Justica. Both of these individuals were very sympathetic to Maureen for her son’s plight and were concerned about the case.
Neither individual appeared able to intervene in the local State of Goiana where Craig is being held. The Federal Government in Brazil has limited influence in local state politics. Only the President of Brazil seems to be able to directly influence the State authorities in Brazil.
These two meetings, whilst reassuring in their nature, ultimately yielded little in terms of raising the profile of the case with the Superior Tribunal of Justice which ruled on the [17th December] not to nullify the case as requested in a habeas corpus prepared by Craig’s new lawyers.

2.2 Legal Update
Maureen Alden and I met with Craig’s new defence lawyers on Thursday 5th December and they outlined their activities on Craig’s behalf as follows:
They had submitted a habeas corpus writ with the Supreme court in Brasilia to have the case and charges against Craig nullified because of a perceived illegality in the proceedings where the Prosecutor acted both as investigator and prosecutor in this case. This habeas corpus will be considered during May 2003.
The lawyers have also prepared a further series of Habeas Corpus applications which they will now submit to the state court in Goiana to gain a re-trial which will allow full examination of the defence evidence.

2.3 In The Course Of Our Visit
Craig Elliot Alden
A series of video interviews were conducted in the course of my visit including an interview covertly filmed with Craig in his cell.
On visiting Craig on the morning of the 5th December 2002 we found him in a single cell adjacent to the entrance to the civil prison. His cell gate was fitted with a blanket to prevent him being viewed by other prisoners. The lighting conditions were very poor inside the cell although an electric light was provided however this is operated by joining two bare wires together and is a hazardous operation to undertake in the dark.
Craig was very distressed by the conditions that he was in. He was undoubtedly fearful for his life and had not left the cell for the previous 7 days because of fear of other prisoners. He is only ever offered exercise along with the remaining prisoners which is totally unacceptable because of the threats made on his life by some of the other inmates in this facility. Craig was provided with a thin mattress on the concrete floor and found it difficult to sleep. We subsequently enquired about why Craig did not have a bed and were told by the Delegado [chief of police] that if he needed a bed we should purchase one in town and have it delivered to him. We did purchase a bed and some additional clothing and personal hygiene items for Craig.
Our initial visit was limited to approximately 25 minutes and we had to apply for permission through the local court for additional visiting privileges on the Friday and Saturday. The official visiting hours are between 11.00 and 19.00 on Sunday. Additional daily visits are allowed by family members to bring food to prisoners. In civil jails in Brazil the prisoner receives a single meal at mid-day [typically comprising of rice and beans] and all other meals must either be provided by family members or purchased from local food outlets and delivered to the civil prison. Craig does not have family nearby to meet his needs and had only a limited supply of food in his cell on the day of our first visit. Craig had not eaten a hot meal in the previous 72 hours.
On the same day, Thursday 5th December, Craig was denied a statutory 2 hour pastoral visit with the local Pastor allegedly on instructions issued by the local judge [reason stated by guard] . The remainder of the prisoners can receive a two hour pastoral visit if they wish on Thursdays between 14.00 and 16.00. Despite the author being introduced as Craig's UK based pastor the visit was curtailed to 25 minutes and no further time was allowed for his mother who had travelled out from the UK to visit her son.
We subsequently applied for a 4 hour visiting period on the Friday and Saturday on compassionate ground but were only granted a 90 minute visit on Friday morning.
The author managed to bring a digital video camera into the prison cell on both the Thursday and Friday and during the visit undertook several interviews with Craig including a direct to camera appeal for assistance to prove his innocence.
In this first video interview he clearly outlines why he feels he is being falsely accused.
On our final visit to Craig we witnessed a visit from 5 Military Police from the original CIOPS facility where Craig was held following his arrest. These officers evidently knew and respected Craig through their visits to the Abrigo Warboys Orphanage and they were friendly to Craig [shaking his hand] and encouraged him to keep on fighting for his innocence.
Craig was in better spirits when we left on Sunday 8th December, however, since our visit we have learned that he has been threatened by a drunken guard and complaints have allegedly been made by other prisoners that he is getting special treatment. Craig is living in fear of his life and is unwilling therefore to take exercise with other prisoners in the prison yard. He is fearful that he will be killed to stop his fight against his imprisonment.

2.4 Conversations With Alleged Victims
Several children have already been dismissed from the Abrigo because of their unwillingness to give a statement against Craig. I have interviewed several of the alleged ‘victims’ live on camera and they have all expressed a belief that Craig has been set up and confirm that they have never been abused in any manner by Craig. These interviews are available for viewing by interested parties. A summary of the key points are listed below:
All four children [alleged victims] state that they were never abused in any manner by Craig but that the Prosecutor refused to accept their statements saying that she 'knew' that abuse had been taking place at the Abrigo. Several of these children wrote to the judge and local police retracting the ‘statement’ made in the presence of the Prosecutor but none of these letters are referred to in the sentencing statement because of the deadline having been passed for lodging defence evidence.
The children implicate a boy called [W], who coincidently was placed at the Abrigo Orphanage by orders of the local Judge and Prosecutor, with abusing several of the younger children at the home. They confirm on camera that Craig did not know that abuse was taking place but that when he was informed of the abuse that he took [W] to the local court and signed a charge sheet against him. These charges have never been investigated to date and [W] now works under the Prosecutor’s patronage at a local youth facility!
Unfortunately the use to which these interviews can be put to at present is limited as they could place the children at risk of harm if it were to be known that the children had accused the Prosecutor of forcing statements from them.


WHAT CAN YOU DO
This is what you can do to support Craig:

    1. Sign the petition for his release. Petition

    2. Send Craig a message - to give him much needed support and encouragement. Contact Craig

    3. Write to your MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Alert them to the website and ask him/her to express your concerns to the Foreign Secretary.

    4. Voice your concerns by writing to the Foreign Secretary,

      Rt. Hon Jack Straw,
      Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
      Old Admiralty Building,
      London, SW1 2PA

    5. Write to the Brazilian Ambassador,

      Ambassador Jose Bustani,
      Brazilian Embassy,
      32 Green Street,
      London, W1K 7AT

    Also Write to Brazilian Embassy London:

    Ambassador José Mauricio de Figueiredo BUSTANI
    Brazilian Embassy London
    32 Green Street
    London
    W1K 7AT
    Tel: +44 (0)20 7399-9000
    Fax: +44 (0)20 7399-9100
    Web: www.brazil.org.uk
    Email: info@brazil.org.uk

6. Visit Craig Alden's Website www.freecraigalden.com


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