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Evidence Erased and a Disunited Navy

The lawyers of the 13 naval personnel whose evidence will be heard tomorrow by the Military Judicial Police in Lisbon claim that “there are indications that evidence has been erased” by the Navy, and are worried that the case may be derailed in their pursuit of the truth.

A source linked to the defence told the Lusa agency that “there are indications of proof that have been erased” and that the ship Mondego “was cleaned” on Wednesday, before a press conference.  Furthermore, a transport plane will arrive carrying various pieces of equipment to help with the ship’s repairs!

The source said that the Portuguese Navy maintains that the ship Mondego was in “condition to leave” for the sea and that this is “proven by an inspection.” But the said inspection was made by the Navy, without the presence of any other entities, and based on this “began to make repairs on board the ship.”

The 13 soldiers who refused to board the ship Mondego on the 11th, alleging a lack of safety of the vessel, will be heard on Monday during two sessions- 10:00 and 14:00-. They are being defended by lawyers Paulo Graça and Garcia Pereira.

Last Thursday, Paulo Graça, told Lusa news agency that he considered the statements made by the Chief of Staff of the Navy disturbing as Admiral Gouveia e Melo “has already expressed a judgment” about the facts without having first heard the evidence of the crew members themselves. He also condemned what is fast becoming a public trial.

The NRP Mondego was supposed to have kept a Russian missile ship that was approximately ten times bigger than the Modego under surveillance (uncorroborated source).  They did not fulfill their mission as nearly half of the crew believed that the ship would not survive the 2.5 -3 metre swell as it had only one workable engine, leaks, contained potentially dangerous cargo in the bilges (fire hazard), and only two of its three electricity generators working.

Admiral Gouveia e Melo, speaking on Thursday at the Port of Funchal, criticised crew members stating that they disobeyed strict orders and that the situation had become one of great gravity.  He went on to say that “the Navy cannot forget, ignore, or forgive acts of indiscipline, whether the military is tired, unmotivated or worried about their own realities,” he stressed, directly questioning the rebels: “What interests have you defended? The Navy’s were certainly not, much less yours. Only united will we overcome difficulties and you have disunited us.”

The Navy confirmed that the Mondego was suffering from an ‘engine malfunction’ but maintain that warships can operate in fairly degraded modes with no impact on safety” as they have “very complex and very redundant systems.”

Of course, the question is, if the ship was fit for sea why are they flying in spare parts?

Samantha Gannon

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