A judge in Guinea-Bissau has ordered the arrest of the country’s minister of transport and telecommunications, Jorge Mandinga, on suspicion of obstruction of law enforcement in a case concerning the seizure of a Maersk Line company ship.
In the order, dated Monday and confirmed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to Lusa, Judge Alberto Leão Carlos pointed out that “strong evidence of a crime of obstruction to judicial activity by the minister, and the moral author for his deliberate attitude of another crime of disobedience.
The case dates back to 10 August when the judge ordered the seizure of the Maersk Line ship “As Pamira”.
According to the judge, the minister’s chief of staff, Júlio Azevedo, came to inform him that the decision to seize the ship had come to the knowledge of the minister and the “dome of power”, after the company’s attorney general had told them about the events.
In the dispatch, the judge also said that the chief of staff told him that “when this happens there may be waves of persecutions”.
“I made it clear to Júlio Azevedo that, since I am a full-fledged judge and the holder of the case, my decision, which ordered the seizure of the assets of the company requested, is to be carried out to the letter because it does not lack legal grounds”, he pointed out.
The judge said that he received, in the meantime, a letter from the Port Maritime Institute in which it is stated that that body received a direct order from the minister to release the ship, following an order “supposedly” given by the head of the government, Nuno Nabiam.
This order, the judge added, had “finally to look after the country’s best interests in terms of cooperation and collaboration with the traditional partners of Guinea-Bissau.
In the order, the judge stated that Maersk and its lawyers share “strong indications” of being “material co-authors of the crime of obstruction to judicial activity and bribery, both foreseen and punishable by effective imprisonment”.
The Port Maritime Institute’s agents are also considered by the judge to be “material co-authors” for having accepted an illegal order.
In addition to the minister’s arrest, the judge also ordered that proceedings be initiated against all those “involved in the illegal release” of the ship and the immediate seizure of another company ship, called “Raquel-S, 1937”.
The judge also ordered a “total and immediate ban on loading the defendant’s containers on any of its ships until a court order is issued to the contrary”.
The judge’s order was also sent to the “Superior Council of the Judiciary and to the other national sovereignty bodies due to the gravity of what happened”, judge Alberto Leão Carlos said.
Lusa tried in vain to contact those involved in the process.
This article is available in: Português