José Sena Goulão/ Lusa

Portuguese Navy doesn’t want brutes, says Admiral

Gouveia e Melo thrashes out following hideous murder of PSP agent

Admiral Gouveia e Melo didn’t mince his words today, as the nation is still in shock over the brutality of an attack involving naval marines that claimed the life of a young PSP agent.

“I don’t want thugs in the Navy; I don’t want show ‘bravado’, but real courage, physical and moral; I don’t want soldiers without moral values; without real dedication to their country; I don’t accept anyone who can’t see that we need to be wolves in the jungle, and lambs at home. That’s the mark of self-mastery, self-control, and the confidence others have in us. We are the warriors of light, not of darkness. Whoever doesn’t act and feel this way, leave and let us honour our uniform, our legacy of more than 700 years of the Navy and 400 of the marines”.

Talking to journalists at the departure of the Arpão submarine for NATO and EU missions, the head of the Navy (CEMA) pledged to get to the bottom of how an event as shocking as this could have happened; “how this could happen within an elite force, and within the Navy”.

“The events of last Saturday have already tarnished our uniforms regardless of whatever comes to be proved. The savage, disproportionate, unreasonable attack cannot have excuses and justifications in terms of our values, as it violates our oath to defend our homeland”, he said. 

“Agent Fábio Guerra was our homeland; the PSP and the security forces are our homeland as are all the citizens in it”.

Telephoning Fábio Guerra’s family was clearly one of the most difficult tasks the Admiral has ever had to do.

“How can one explain the aridity of such a senseless death? How to explain that the events that led to it involved two men under my command? I couldn’t say any more than promise Justice and to fight for such a thing never to happen again. It would have been so much easier to have been able to say my men had defended the agent who fell inanimate in the street; had not allowed someone to cowardly attack him…”

With detectives here and in Spain on the trail of the civilian believed to have delivered the killer blows to agent Guerra (when he was already unconscious), Admiral Gouveia e Melo – practically an institution himself for the work he performed as head of the country’s vaccination task force – made it crystal clear that the marines in preventive custody would never be returning to active service.

To see marines involved in street fights and brawling shows they have “no type of military courage, just weakness, lack of self-restraint and a need for futile and meaningless affirmation”, he said.

“When I see somebody kick someone who has already fallen to the ground, I see an enemy of us all, of decent people; I see a brute; I see hatred, materialised and blind. Above everything else, I see a coward…

These were quite extraordinary words,for their power and simplicity: what happened last Saturday cannot be forgiven.

Reports carried assertions by the marines, currently in Tomar military jail, that they were acting in “legitimate self defence”. But clearly their commander sees nothing legitimate in what took place.

The head of the navy said at the beginning of his speech that he is quite certain the Marines as an elite unit “doesn’t identify with this type of behaviour”. He maintains full confidence in it.

Now is the time to ‘believe in Justice; to help “so that (justice) can be realised” and to understand finally what led to the terrible events outside MOME discotheque.

Yes, there is the right in this early phase to a defence for those accused – “the right to the presumption of innocence until proof of the contrary. But above everything is the right to truth and Justice for the death of agent Fábio Guerra, for his family and for society”, said the Admiral.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com