Confessed author of Tancos theft appeals to Constitutional Court | Justice

The defense of João Paulino, the confessed author of the theft of weapons from Tancos, appealed to the Constitutional Court the decision of the Relação de Évora on the issue of legality of evidence already contested by the defendant in the instruction.

In an appeal to the Constitutional Court (TC), lawyer Melo Alves also alleges unconstitutionality related to the “lack of promotion and control by the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP)” regarding investigative acts that took place in the Tancos process, which even involved a parallel investigation of the Military Judicial Police/GNR.

In the appeal, to which Lusa had access, João Paulino’s defense refers that the defendant, in the investigation phase, asked “several questions to the court, namely in terms of the legality of the evidence”, but that the investigation court “did not pronounced”.

“As a result of this non-pronouncement, the defendant (João Paulino) lodged an appeal against that decision. The Court of Appeal (of Évora) has now (February 28) decided that the defendant could not appeal against that decision”.

The lawyer understands that an interpretation of several norms of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CPP) in the sense that “the order of instruction on the grounds of omission of an inequitable pronouncement of unconstitutionality is unappealable” those norms of the CPP for violating norms of article 32 of the Constitution (Guarantees of Criminal Procedure), including the one that says that instructive acts are subordinated to the adversarial principle.

Melo Alves refers that João Paulino “did not call into question the content of the instructional decision, neither as to its merits nor in relation to its illegalities”, clarifying that what the appellant raises “has to do with the fact that the judge did not decide ” the questions raised.

As for the nullity of the evidence due to lack of promotion and control of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, it is alleged that an interpretation of the criminal procedural rules “in the sense that the initiation of an investigation and its continuation, without the promotion and default of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, cannot consequently, the irremediable nullity of all acts performed by the criminal police body, making the said rules unconstitutional for violating” article 219 of the Constitution (Functions and Statute of the MP).

“The criminal police body can, on its own initiative, investigate citizens for months and then there is no result (incurable nullity)?”, asks Melo Alves.

In the first instance decision, in January 2022, which sentenced 11 of the 23 defendants, João Paulino was sentenced by the Court of Santarém to six years in prison for terrorism and to five years and six months in prison for drug trafficking, resulting in legal sum, in the single sentence of eight years in prison.

However, on February 28, the Court of Appeal of Évora (TRE) decided to “declare the nullity of the judgment (of 1st instance), due to omission of pronouncement, and determine that the Court of Santarém pronounce on the functional and material incompetence of the criminal investigating judge and the violation of the constitutional principle of the natural judge”.

The TRE also declared the use of evidence obtained through metadata null and void, considering that the facts given as proven in many points of the process are irremediably affected and must be reconsidered. This understanding has already led to a request by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for partial nullity of the judgment in the part relating to metadata.

The process of the theft and recovery of military material from the National Storerooms of Tancos ended with the conviction of effective prison sentences for the perpetrators of the theft of weapons.

In addition to João Paulino, João Pais and Hugo Santos were convicted, who helped him remove military material from the magazines on the night of June 28, 2017.

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