Cecilia Haddad Murder Accused Appears In Rio Court
The man accused of murdering Brazilian Cecilia Haddad in Sydney says his trip to Rio de Janeiro about the same time her body was found was planned in advance.
Haddad's ex-boyfriend Mario Marcelo Ferreira dos Santos Santoro, 40, appeared in court in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.
Santoro did not answer questions put to him by prosecutors and the judge. He did, however, answer questions posed by his own defence lawyers.
Santoro stands accused of killing Haddad, 38, in Sydney in April and disposing of her body in the Lane Cove River.
He flew back to Rio the same weekend her body was discovered. Santoro told the court on Monday his trip had been planned in advance to see his parents and children but due to his father requiring surgery, he came to Brazil sooner than planned.
Asked by his defence lawyers why he did not have a return ticket to Australia, Santoro said his flight was booked to Chile and from there he had planned to take his children and his mother to meet Haddad.
They had planned to go skiing before returning to Australia, he added.
At a previous hearing, the court heard Rio de Janeiro police claimed Santoro had made an "informal confession" to killing Haddad and disposing of her body.
At Monday's hearing journalists were not allowed into the court by court staff until the final 15 minutes of the 90-minute hearing.
His lawyers later spoke about the case, saying the so-called informal confession was not recorded by police.
"Every interview he gave was filmed and recorded," said Anderson Rollemberg, one of his legal team.
"And now the authorities say that suspect gave a spontaneous statement. Why did they not film nor record it? ... In my view this defence is not permissible in court."
Santoro told the court how he met Haddad while they were studying at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.
Santoro had been dating Haddad for a year when she ended their relationship. They lived together in her apartment in Ryde, Sydney.
At a prior hearing, a friend of Haddad told the court how she spent the days prior to her death in a "panic" over alleged threats and harassment by Santoro.
Rita Maciel, a 37-year-old Brazilian who lives in Sydney, said her friend had "a fear of being at home, a fear of going to work, a fear of driving her own car".
Haddad's mother had also told of her daughter's fear and of a final phone call, when she could hear Santoro banging on the door.
The hearing will resume next year when the judge will decide whether the case will go to a full jury trial.