Guinean Public Ministry orders PJ to return rice seized from minister

Rice donated by China 'not for sale' underscores ambassador

Rice donated by China 'not for sale' underscores ambassador

The Public Ministry of Guinea-Bissau ordered the PJ to return the sacks of rice seized in the Minister of Agriculture's farm.

The rice bags were seized under the "People's Rice" operation and aimed at recovering rice donated by China, which the PJ suspects was diverted for sale. In the same order, dated April 24, the Public Prosecutor's Office (PM) also ordered the opening of a criminal case against five agents of that criminal investigation force.

According to the MP, the Judiciary Police had sent search warrants to the city of Bafatá, namely in the "warehouses and homes of the suspects, as well as in the homes of any people in possession of the said product."

"It happens, however, that the PJ extended these steps to other locations not covered by the warrant," adds the prosecutor.

In the order, the MP gives a period of five days, which ends today, to the Judiciary Police to return the rice to the Ministry of Agriculture. PJ sources contacted by Lusa said the rice will not be delivered and sent further explanations for a press release to be released later today.

The Guiné-Bissau Judiciary Police seized several hundred tons of rice donated by China, which according to that criminal investigation force was being prepared to be sold to the public in an operation known as "People's Rice".

The seized rice was in a warehouse in Bafatá, owned by the former Interior Minister Botché Candé, and in a farm owned by the Agriculture Minister Nicolau dos Santos.

In the context of the operation, the PJ tried to arrest the Minister of Agriculture, but was prevented by the security forces.

China's ambassador in the country, Jin Hong Jun, told Lusa he was following the investigation closely with the Judiciary Police and pointed out that donated rice "is not for sale."

The ambassador explained that a total of 2,638 tonnes of rice worth $ 3 million had been donated and that the donation reached January 26.