Man cuts off finger in court over debt

LISBON Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:04pm EST

A demonstrator wraps a red bolt of cloth around a tree during a rally in Sydney October 13, 2007. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

A demonstrator wraps a red bolt of cloth around a tree during a rally in Sydney October 13, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Tim Wimborne

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LISBON (Reuters) - A Portuguese businessman said he cut off one of his fingers in court with a butcher's knife in an "act of despair" after a judge refused his offer to settle a 170,000 euro debt and said part of his farm must be sold.

"My intention was to tear up all the case papers and splatter them with blood so I could prevent the expropriation order for my land," Orico Silva was quoted as saying in local media after his drastic action in the court house.

Silva, who owns a 20 hectare (50 acre) farm in the central town of Figueira da Foz, was being sued by a company for holding onto a cash deposit on a land deal which had fallen through, the local newspaper said.

"I freaked out when the judge refused my offer to pay the debt and ordered the sale of part of my land. I told her I had a 1.2 million euro bank guarantee which would have allowed me to pay the debt," Silva said.

When he went to take the bank papers from his briefcase, he noticed the butcher's knife he had recently bought at a market and decided to cut off his index finger, using a court desk as a chopping board. He then cut the finger into three.

"I didn't feel anything, I could even have cut off all my fingers. It was an act of despair," he said.

(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; editing by Tim Pearce)

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