The Court of Appeal of Évora declared null the judgment of the trial of Tancos, handed down by the Court of Santarém in early January 2022, confirmed the PUBLIC that it had access to the decision of the judges known this Tuesday. The main defendant and confessed perpetrator of the robbery, João Paulino, had been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Of the 11 convicted in the Tancos trial a year ago, ten had appealed against the judgment of the Santarém Court, but only seven wanted to plead in their defense at the appeal stage. The judgment will be remembered, among other things, for the acquittal for the crime of prevarication and other crimes of former Defense Minister José Azeredo Lopes.
Still in the first instance decision, the panel of judges, chaired by Nelson Barra, acquitted all the military of the most serious crimes of which they were accused by the prosecutors (criminal association and trafficking and mediation of weapons).
The court, however, proved another type of responsibility and condemned Major Vasco Brazão and the major Roberto Pinto da Costa, who was also a PJM investigator, for a crime of personal favoritism (three years and six months in prison) and a crime of falsifying a document (three years). As a result of the legal combination, both were given a suspended sentence of five years in prison and a two-and-a-half-year ban on carrying out their duties.
With regard to the hierarchical superior of the majors, Colonel Luís Vieiraand the other PJM and GNR military personnel involved in the mission to recover the weapons, without the knowledge of the MP, the court was sufficiently convinced by the documentary and testimonial evidence produced that they, too, agreed not to identify the person who gave them would hand over the stolen material: João Paulino.
What was at stake, although to different degrees, were convictions for the crime of personal favoritism that earned them suspended sentences (up to five years) and disqualification from exercising functions for the same period.
For the GNR soldier, Bruno Ataíde, or for Major Vasco Brazão, from the Military Judiciary Police (PJM), the lawyers admitted that the crime of denial of justice could be at stake, due to the fact that the Public Prosecutor’s Office was not informed of the investigation that the PJM would be developing, nor the discovery of the material, when the PJ had been appointed to investigate; this would reduce the sentence to which they were sentenced.
For Paulino, it was more than that: Carlos Melo Alves tried, in the allegations in defense of the appeal on February 28, to free Paulino from the crime of terrorism, contesting, for example, the conclusion of the first instance that he would have tried to sell explosives to a former element of the Spanish ETA, which for Carlos Melo Alves seems impossible because at that time this terrorist organization was already extinct and because this crime was imputed on the basis of “insufficient evidence”.
Melo Alves was referring to the evidence based on an eavesdropping that it was not possible to contradict at trial due to the absence of the person the defense lawyers hoped would be an important witness — Paulo Lemos, known as “Fechaduras” —, since he was the informant from the Judiciary Police who learned and transmitted to this police, as early as March 2017, that an arms theft was in preparation and who followed the indications of the PJ itself, accused in turn by the defense lawyers of having done nothing to prevent the robbery .
“Our main disagreement has to do with the fact that [o tribunal] having judged that the GNR and PJM soldiers, who were responsible for recovering the weapons, committed a crime of favoritism through an agreement signed with the defendant Paulino, which never happened”, said Ricardo Sá Fernandes, defender of Vasco Brazão , corroborating the position held throughout the process by the defendants in question.
The lawyer contests the decision also because he understands that, in order to conclude that there was an illegal agreement with Paulino, the court was only based on the statements “of those who ended up condemning him as a terrorist and drug dealer [João Paulino]which is baseless.”