Civil courts deal with espionage

More than 400 legal cases that are pending with the Military Judicial Police were transferred to the Public Ministry as of September 14 – the date when the Military Justice Code becomes valid, signalling the end of military courts in peacetime.

As the cloak of secrecy surrounding the military cases is lifted, lawyers have been amazed to examine the cases, several involve alleged espionage, including a tender bid for a 300 million euro contract to modernise maritime patrol P3 aircraft. Another involves an alleged 10 million euro fraud over the sale of combat uniforms to Poland, which has already led to an Italian arms dealer, Ricardo Privitera, being extradited to Portugal. Various payments made to staff at the Army Geographic Institute are also under scrutiny, after investigators were apparently briefed by an anonymous source. Other investigations will probe the whereabouts of receipts from foreign countries that were the alleged beneficiaries of corrupt dealings.

Military espionage is punishable by prison terms of between three and 10 years. The acquisition of sophisticated instruments of war is an extremely lucrative business and the authorities are determined to take any allegation that top secret documentation has found its way into the hands of competitors extremely seriously.