To most people Portugal’s state-run orphanages seemed like a safe haven for thousands of children who had been robbed of their parents. They were called the Casa Pia, or Houses of the Pious.But for an elite paedophile ring, which included a former ambassador and a prominent television celebrity, Casa Pia orphanages were something entirely different. They were supermarkets stocked with children to abuse. Yesterday, at the conclusion of the longest trial in Portugal’s history, seven defendants were convicted of using the orphanages to rape and abuse scores of teenage boys in a case that has sent shockwaves through the country’s political elite and raised serious concerns over the efficiency of Portugal’s judiciary. Six of the seven were given jail terms of between five and 18 years.The trial, in Lisbon’s top criminal court, is thought to be the largest ever undertaken by Portugal’s court system. Over five and half years, more than 800 witnesses, including 32 alleged victims, gave evidence detailing how a paedophile ring used the orphanages to source children for wealthy and influential clients. The sentencing document alone, of which judges spent most of yesterday reading a summary, runs to 2,000 pages.