Portuguese court convicted 11 people in national ordnance robbery

The Portuguese court acquitted a former defense minister, but 11 people were convicted of stealing weapons from the national armory more than four years ago

Lisbon, Portugal-According to reports from the defendant’s lawyers and local media, a Portuguese court on Friday acquitted a former defense minister but sentenced 11 others to the crime in connection with stealing weapons from the national armory more than four years ago.

The former Minister of Defense, José Azeredo Lopes, was accused of malfeasance and judicial injustice, involving weapons that were stolen and mysteriously reappeared in nearby venues four months later.

The case is investigated by prosecutors and police detectives. The prosecutor claimed that the then Minister of Defense was aware of a separate secret plan by the gendarmerie to recover stolen weapons after embarrassing robberies by the Portuguese armed forces.

The court found that the gendarme who handled the case had reached a confidentiality agreement with the master thief, demanding the return of the weapon in exchange for the confidentiality of his identity.

The court sentenced the mastermind of the robber to eight years’ imprisonment for arms trafficking and terrorism, which is the longest sentence.

The court found that he intended to sell these weapons on the international black market, and once contacted ETA, the now-defunct Basque separatist radical organization in Spain.

The prosecutor’s estimate of these weapons is 35,000 euros ($40,000).

The other convicted defendants were sentenced to at least three years in prison. Part of the sentence was suspended.

After 14 months of trial, the other 11 defendants were acquitted.