The lawyers of 13 soldiers from the ship Mondego who will be heard on Monday by the Military Judiciary Police, in Lisbon, claim that “there are evidence that have been erased” by the Navy and will ask for proof.
A source linked to the defense told the Lusa agency that “there are evidences that are being erased” and that the Mondego ship “was completely cleaned” on Wednesday, before going to the location of two televisions. A plane loaded with material will have flown to Funchal to allow repairs to the ship, he added.
The source said that the Portuguese Navy maintains that the Mondego ship was in “condition to leave” for the sea and that this is “proved by an inspection”. But the said inspection was carried out by the Navy, without the presence of any other entities, and based on that, “they started making repairs on board the ship”, he said.
The source assured that on Monday, when the 13 soldiers will be heard at the Military Judiciary Police (PJM), within the scope of a criminal inquiry, the defense lawyers “will ask for evidential measures”, hoping that these “do not become unfeasible ” in order to ascertain the discovery of the truth.
The 13 soldiers who refused to board the ship Mondego on the 11th, alleging the vessel’s lack of safety, will be heard on Monday in two periods, in the morning (10:00) and in the afternoon (14:00). The military are defended by lawyers Paulo Graça and Garcia Pereira.
Lawyer says Gouveia e Melo made “trial in public square”
Last Thursday, Paulo Graça, speaking to Lusa, considered the statements by the Chief of Staff of the Navy and criticized the “judgment in the public square” that has been carried out by the Navy.
The lawyer said that the declarations of the Chief of Staff of the Navy were “disturbing”, because Gouveia e Melo “has already expressed a judgment” about the facts that were committed, having “this judgment been expressed without the persons concerned having the opportunity to speak of their justice or to defend themselves”.
He then claimed that “the Navy had been passing on a certain version of the facts for five days, without anyone having heard those interested and what they (the 13 soldiers) have to say regarding this situation”.
On the night of the 11th, the NRP (Portuguese Republic Ship) Mondego did not carry out a mission to accompany a Russian ship north of the island of Porto Santo, in Madeira, because 13 of the garrison’s soldiers (four sergeants and nine soldiers) refused to board for security reasons.
Contacted by Lusa on Thursday, the PJM Public Relations officer confirmed that “a group of military personnel was notified to report to the PJM next Monday”, to be “heard by a PJM criminal investigation team, within the scope of the criminal investigation”. He added that it was a crime of a “strictly military” nature and of an “urgent nature”.
Although no further details were provided on such criminal charges, it will be in question violations of the Code of Military Justice regarding “insubordination by disobedience” and “insubordination by illegal arrest or illegitimate rigor”.
The head of the Navy, Gouveia e Melo, in statements on Thursday in the port of Funchal, criticized the soldiers on the Mondego ship who disobeyed orders, saying that the case is of “very serious gravity”.
“The Navy cannot forget, ignore, or forgive acts of indiscipline, whether the soldiers are tired, unmotivated or worried about their own realities”, he stressed, directly questioning the rebelling soldiers: “What interests did you defend? Those of the Navy were not certainly, yours much less. Only united will we overcome difficulties and you have disunited us.”
Among the various technical limitations invoked by the military to refuse to board the ship was the fact that an engine and an electric power generator were inoperative.
The Navy confirmed that the Mondego ship had “a fault in one of the engines”, but said that warships “can operate in a very degraded mode without impact on safety”, since they have “very complex and very redundant systems”.