former aide of infrastructures minister João Galamba

Sacked aide tells TAP inquiry his version of the ministry punch-up

Claims PM Costa and minister Galamba have “defamed him”

The former aide of infrastructures minister João Galamba has been giving HIS version of the hugely conflicted story surrounding the ministerial punch-up that ended with secret services being dispatched to relieve him of his computer.

As most people following this tortuous story will have been expecting, Frederico Pinheiro said:

  • He did not rob a computer containing classified information
  • He did not assault anyone at the infrastructures ministry on the night of April 26; in fact it was who he was assaulted
  • His name has been ‘dragged through the proverbial mud’ (defamed, in other words) by the prime minister and by João Galamba.

As for the story of him breaking out of the ministry by throwing his bicycle against a plate glass window, that too, he says, was fabricated.

Indeed, the version of Frederico Pinheiro is that he was forced to flee four people (former colleagues) who were pushing and pulling him, and trying to take his backpack (in which he had the computer).

“I didn’t assault anyone, I just freed myself in self-defence from four people who pushed and pulled me and tried to take my backpack. I was the one who called the police to leave the building where they were keeping me” (against his will).

In short, the “powerful machine of governmentsought to create “a false narrative of the facts that occurred.

“As an ‘anonymous citizen’ with no decision-making powers, I was threatened by SIS (secret services, dispatched to relieve him of his computer), I was insulted and defamed by the prime minister and the minister of infrastructures”, the former aide with a Phd in economy told today’s session of the parliamentary inquiry that has become compulsive viewing for political commentators, who have said all along it is ‘a Godsend’ in as much as citizens have every right to learn exactly what has been happening with the airline they have all been forced to finance (to the tune of €3.2 billion most recently).

As to the ‘false narrative’ allegation, this extended to government ‘interference’ regarding the preparatory meeting back in January with the now dismissed TAP CEO.

“A lie repeated a thousand times only becomes a truth if the defenders of the truth allow it, and I will not allow it”, he read from a prepared text.

And there was more: the former aide, dismissed by Mr Galamba in a short phone call, accused the ministry of trying to hide documents requested by the parliamentary inquiry (namely the notes he had made during the preparatory meeting with TAP’s former CEO, ahead of her appearance before the parliamentary commission of the economy).

SIC Notícias has carried Frederico Pinheiro’s statement in full. He began telling the commission: “From the first to the last day (of his job as aide), I always carried out my duties in a committed and loyal manner. Work often started at nine in the morning and ended at four in the morning. I was loyal, rigorous and hardworking. Loyal in the diligences carried out for the Ministry of Infrastructure and whenever I worked in articulation between the government and the PS parliamentary group”. He stressed that he “never” withheld or omitted “information”.

But despite his demonstrated loyalty, Frederico Pinheiro says he “saw all this change in an instant”…

Frederico Pinheiro is still being questioned by MPs on the parliamentary commission as we upload this text.

Tomorrow, it will be the turn of Infrastructures minister João Galamba – the man who called a press conference in which he described his former aide as “the aggressor”; in which he described “the theft of a computer”.

This whole situation has already gone beyond surreality, but it looks like there is still some way left to go. In fact as this was being written, Frederico Pinheiro was admitting that João Galamba went so far as to threaten him physically…

João Galamba, it has to be said, is a minister who has lost the confidence of the President; a minister who tendered his resignation, only to see the prime minister refuse to accept it. No political commentator believed at the beginning of this month that he would still be in place – even less in a hard hat on a building site, as he was yesterday, saying he had “all the necessary conditions” to remain at his post.

Frederico Pinheiro’s five hour session with the parliamentary inquiry was followed by the questioning of João Galamba’s ‘head of department’, Eugénia Correia, who essentially continued with the ‘government version’ of events – even though this has been shown as inconsistent.

Highlighting some of these inconsistencies, Correio da Manhã editorial director general Carlos Rodrigues has remarked that listening to yesterday’s testimonies in parliament can only be described as “pain for the soul – immense sadness for our country”.

He believes “those hours of lies, lame excuses, character attacks, lies, insults and total intellectual and moral indigence were a shot to heart of the regime”.