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Man locked wife in dirty cellar for eight years, say police

A man has been arrested for allegedly keeping his wife locked for eight years in the dark, dank cellar of their home in south-eastern Brazil.

Joao Batista Groppo (64) was arrested after his wife of 40 years, Sebastiana, was found confined in a "filthy, dark" cellar, said police inspector Jaqueline Barcelos Coutinho.

Mr Groppo's girlfriend, Maria Furquim, was arrested as an accomplice by police in Sorocaba, about 80km west of Sao Paulo.

The son said he knew what his father was doing but was unable to persuade him to stop, Insp Coutinho said, adding that the son "may face charges of failing to come to the aid of someone in need".

Mr Groppo, who described himself as a retired industrial consultant, said he locked up his 64-year-old wife beginning in 2003 because she was mentally ill and aggressive.


Police were tipped off to the situation by an anonymous telephone call and arrested Mr Groppo on Wednesday.

The inspector said she was shocked when she found the woman behind a padlocked iron gate in the cellar.

"She was lying nude on a concrete bed inside a foul-smelling, humid cubicle with no electricity or ventilation," Insp Coutinho said. "The walls were covered with mould and spider webs. She was in a degrading situation unfit for animals."

Sebastiana was taken to hospital and later released. She was then taken to her son's home in a nearby city. Insp Coutinho said: "She appears to be in good physical condition."

Mr Groppo and his girlfriend face charges of depriving someone of their freedom through "private incarceration" and could be sentenced to up to eight years.

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