Prosecutor wants to analyse case “in more detail”
With so much of this controversy unclear, the hearings today of the 13 naval personnel (four sergeants and nine ratings) over their refusal to set out on a naval mission earlier this month have been suspended, with no new date set.
In many ways, this is a ‘victory’ for the defence which has maintained the 13 men are being treated badly.
Going into the first hearing this morning, defence lawyer Garcia Pereira, said the Navy’s case is “wounded to the death”, largely because Admiral Gouveia e Melo has already declared the men guilty on national television.
Garcia Pereira accused Gouveia e Melo, the former ‘vaccination czar’ in the time of Covid-19, of being “overbearing and discriminatory”.
It is “intolerable” that “men who are proud of the uniform they wear, who have a record of distinguished services” have been “treated in a miserable way, with an overbearing, discriminatory, vexatious and humiliating attitude by the head of the Navy“, he went on.
“This does not go unchallenged and at least lawyers have not only the right but also the duty not to put their knee to the ground in the face of violations of the law and the Constitution.”
Garcia Pereira and fellow defence lawyer Paulo Graça have already gone public with allegations that the Navy has “erased evidence” ahead of the hearings today.
Considering PJ military police told journalists last week that this was an “urgent case” and needed to be dealt with rapidly, today’s result moves the situation into new territory.
In Paulo Graça’s mindset, it is “entirely normal that the prosecutor, as the independent magistrate that she is, wants to see this process, to determine what (the public prosecutions office) sees fit to determine.”
Since this unhappy incident hit the headlines last week, updates and interpretations have been falling over themselves for attention.
On Sunday night, satirical programme “Isto é gozar com quem trabalha” dedicated a large chunk of its half-hour show to the story, lampooning the state of the Portuguese Navy, particularly as this mission had been to ‘accompany a Russian warship’. Host Ricardo Araújo went so far as to suggest that the ‘mutiny’ may well have played in Portugal’s favour. If the Russians had seen the state of the ship through their binoculars, he quipped, they may have contacted President Putin to say the equivalent of ‘we have been trying to conquer Ukraine for over a year; this is a country we could overcome in a weekend…”