Further outrage has been heaped on Portugal’s minister for interior administration Eduardo Cabrita.
The man who political commentator Luís Marques Mendes said had “no conditions to remain in office” two months ago is now the target of renewed calls for ‘immediate dismissal’.
Says the syndicate representing inspectors at SEF (foreigners and frontiers service), Mr Cabrita lied in parliament.
“Never has a minister remained in functions who has caused so much damage to the security of a country”, railed syndicate leader Acácio Pereira.
This latest furore blew up after Mr Cabrita told parliament on Wednesday that agents of the GNR and PSP (police forces) were controlling the frontiers.
The back-story here centres on SEF’s imminent extinction in the wake of the hideous death of a Ukrainian citizen at the service’s temporary ‘holding centre’ at Lisbon airport.
Explain reports, “for the syndicate ‘the lies’ of Eduardo Cabrita and the ‘intention to extinguish SEF’ are all motivated by the desire to save his own skin”.
Stresses Acácio Pereira, Mr Cabrita wants to extinguish SEF “to hide the fact that he did nothing in the eight months that followed” the death of Ukrainian father-of-two Ihor Homeniuk (whose family has now been financially compensated by the Portuguese government).
“SEF and the country are paying the bill for Eduardo Cabrita having done nothing, absolutely nothing, for eight months to correct the failings in investment in SEF following the death of the Ukrainian in March 2020”, Acácio Pereira said in a statement – largely echoing the findings of the Portuguese Ombudsman in December.
But Mr Cabrita’s statements in the House on Wednesday passed yet another red line, when – according to the inspectors’ syndicate – he lied to the Commission of Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Liberties and Guarantees by saying GNR and PSP agents were controlling the borders.
Says Observador, inspectors accept GNR and PSP agents have always cooperated with SEF in controlling Portugal’s borders. But, they say, the control is “an exclusive competence of SEF”, and to say otherwise is to mislead.
The syndicate also drew attention to the fact that the minister “contradicted himself” in addressing the commission, by saying SEF “was linked to the best public response in recent months”.
In so doing “he withdrew any reason for transferring SEF police competences to other police forces”.
Mr Cabrita has denied that what he calls the ‘restructuring of SEF’ is related to the death of Ihor Homeniuk – insisting it is a ‘reform’ planned by the government.
SEF’s angry call for Mr Cabrita’s dismissal follows previous calls by the PSD and CDS-PP centre right parties.
Writing in Correio da Manhã, Acácio Pereira has since stressed this is a clear situation of “a good service of the State being sacrificed to save the skin of a minister who is determined to do anything to serve the prime minister”.
“Thankfully”, he adds “many MPs” some even of the PS Socialists “are realising what is at play and are prepared to stand up to defend the national interest”. The prime minister “has to be stopped from destroying SEF in his own interests of maintaining Cabrita in government”, says Mr Pereira.