Lisbon, 01 Oct 2019 (Lusa) – Former director of the Military Judiciary Police (PJM) Luís Vieira will ask to make an opening  instruction prior to the commencement of the Tancos trial, in which he is charged with criminal association, arms trafficking, document forgery, denial of justice, prevarication and personal favouritism.

Instruction is an optional procedural phase in which a judge assesses whether there is sufficient evidence to bring defendants to trial at a date yet to be determined.

The information about the request for opening of instructions was given to Lusa agency today by his lawyer Rui Baleizão. It follows similar requests by former Defence Minister Azeredo Lopes and Major Vasco Brazão Military Judicial Police (PJM).

Luís Vieira is accused in co-authorship with other defendants of PJM, GNR and Azeredo Lopes. will face trial over his alleged role in a suspected army cover-up of a theft of weapons from a Portuguese military base more than two years ago, the public prosecutor’s office revealed on Thursday.

According to the prosecutor, the recovery of military material was achieved through a “true pact of silence between all PJM defendants [including Luis Vieira] of GNR and Azeredo Lopes”, forging evidence and documents.

The prosecution considers that with the connivance of Luis Vieira and PJM elements, including Military Judicial Police (PJM) major Vasco Brazão and the GNR military, with the permission of the hierarchy, they made due diligence with the suspect of the theft and negotiated the delivery of military material with the promise of ” criminal impunity “.

From the beginning of the process, the director of the PJM disagreed that the case of theft of military material was the responsibility of the PJ and, according to the accusation, sent several emails to the head of the Military House of the President of the Republic João Cordeiro “trying to move influences at the earliest stage at a high level “.

The process that investigated the theft and staging of the recovery of the arms of Tancos’s fathers ended with the accusation of 23 defendants, including former Defence Minister José Azeredo Lopes.

Defendants are charged with terrorism, criminal association, denial of justice, malfeasance, falsification of documents, influence peddling, abuse of power, retention and possession of a prohibited weapon.

The case shook the military, led to the resignation of Azeredo Lopes in 2018, and the controversy surrounding the theft, made public by the Army on June 29, 2017 with the indication that it had occurred the day before, rose in tone after the “apparent” recovery of the material in the Chamusca region, Santarém district, in October 2017, in an operation by the Military Judicial Police.

Nine of the 23 defendants are accused of planning and executing the theft of military equipment from the national storerooms and the remaining 14, including the former minister, of the staging that was behind the recovery of the equipment.