Paramilitary chief suspected of covering up weapons theft in Africa

Lieutenant General Rui Guerrera Pereira, deputy commander of the army, was indicted by the public prosecutor’s office on suspicion of covering up the theft of weapons coordinated in an international mission in the Portuguese army four years ago. Central African Republic (CAR) – Nasser do Sol learned from a military source.

A weapons theft by a Portuguese military unit, a collection of 9mm Walther pistols – used only by police and military forces and fetching high prices on the black market – took place in January 2019 at the MINUSCA field (Missão Multidimensional Integrada das Nações Nations). To stabilize the Central African Republic, during an operation in Bambari aimed at preventing the recapture of the country’s second largest city by an armed rebel group known as the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), from Muslim subjugation driven out of there after a civil war (2004-2007).

The commander of the Portuguese division, Paratrooper Lt. Col. Oscar Fontura, reported the theft to Guevara Pereira as commander of the ground forces, but already Deputy CEME had asked him to prepare a report stating that Walter had disappeared during the conflict. Rebels.

In fact, it can be easier to justify the disappearance of weapons during an operation than a robbery. Therefore, the commander did not report the incident to MINUSCA, which prevented the United Nations military police authority from investigating in an effort to find those responsible and recover the weapons.

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At the time, the Portuguese army opened an internal investigation process, which, however, was shelved, in accordance with the usual rule of submission to the Commander-in-Chief, General José Nunes da Fonseca, without any disciplinary procedure. However, after receiving an anonymous complaint in 2020 detailing the fraud, the Military Judicial Police (BJM) launched its own investigation into the case, and its final report, which was concluded recently, proposes that all those involved should go to trial. The Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) is now evaluating the evidence gathered and may file charges or, if it disagrees with PJM, file it. Bearing in mind that he set up the accused sub-CEME, everything indicates that he will be charged and the process will go to trial.

Vice-CEME chosen by João Cravinho
Nunes da Fonseca confirmed to Nazar do Sol that there was an internal investigation process into the disappearance of the weapons, but said he was not aware of any circumstances surrounding the cover-up. Although Guerra Pereira informed him that he would be questioned by the MP as a defendant, CEME guarantees: “The only information I have is that everything happened in a war situation.” As for his partner, he chose not to make statements to this newspaper, citing the fact that the process is a judicial secret.

Contacted by our newspaper, the former Defense Minister responded through his journalist assuring that he has completely ignored the matter.

The robbery was carried out at a MINUSCA camp set up in Bambari to launch an operation against the UPC led by Ali Tarassa between Christmas and New Year. The UPC, based in Pokolobo, 70 kilometers from Mambari at the time, was the best-organized and best-armed armed group in the region, and its leader was accused by the US government of committing “gross human rights violations”. Return this city to contest the conclusion of a peace agreement scheduled in Khartoum (Sudan) on February 7, 2019, which Tarasa refused to sign.

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A MINUSCA rapid force consisting of Portuguese soldiers not only thwarted the UPC’s attempt, but decided to attack its headquarters in Pokolobo in a two-pronged maneuver: a Portuguese force advancing from the north and a Rwandan company from the south. Clashes lasted about 24 hours (with no casualties to UN troops), the insurgents fled into the bush, and the operation stalled, assuming the peacekeeping force had achieved its objectives. Also on the run, Tharassa appeared the following month in Khartoum to sign the peace treaty.

It was during this operation, which lasted for about a month, that the pistols of the Portuguese soldiers were stolen from the tents of the Minuska camp.

The Deputy CEME was appointed by then Defense Minister João Gómez Cravinho in December 2018, sparking some controversy as it was the first time that the holder of the post was sworn in at the Ministry’s premises rather than at headquarters. of public servants, as usual.

Although Guerra Perera is considered close to the President, this is a way for the current foreign minister to publicly show that the appointment is not his initiative. His appointment as respondent may have made the position of Deputy CEME available, but it is speculated that Jose Nunes da Fonseca did not accept it.

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