01 May 2012

Court Probes Tender Process for Justice Ministry Project

Jornal Independente Friday 27 April 2012 By: Agus dos Santos - DILI: The Public Ministry continued to question the legality of the process by which Wesupa received a contract to supply uniforms to prison guards during the third day of the corruption and abuse of power trial against Justice Minister Lucia Lobato in the Dili District Court.

In addition to accusations surrounding the project to supply the uniforms, Ms Lobato is facing charges related to the rehabilitation of the Becora-Gleno prison and the construction of Civil Registration Conservatory offices in eight districts.

Head of the Justice Ministry’s supply department Antonio Freitas is also facing charges in relation to the contract to supply the prison uniforms.

The Public Ministry continued to seek clarification from witnesses about the process by which Wesupa won the contract, because evidence obtained by the ministry indicates it was not one of the six companies that applied during the tender process.

On Wednesday, Wasupa director Nazario da Silva told the court his company had applied for the project after being encouraged to do so by Ms Lobato’s husband, Americo Lopes, who said he wanted 10 per cent of the proceeds if the company won the contract.

Yesterday, witness Bonciano da Cruz, the Ministry of Finance’s director of finance administration, told the court he did not have a deep understanding of the case because it was not his responsibility.

Mr da Cruz said he did not know about the issue until the Public Ministry and the Anti-Corruption Commission (KAK) started investigating.

Documents filed in the Finance Ministry could clarify the situation, he said.

Ministry of Justice certifier Jaime Maia also said he did not know about issue because it was not his role.

Meanwhile, former director of the Becora prison Helena Gomes said that in 2008 as prison director she followed the decisions made by her superiors about the purchase of uniforms for prison guards.

She did not know how many uniforms the prison guards received because the clothing delivered by the Ministry of Justice went directly to the logistics department, she said.

“I don’t know (whether the number of) uniforms was sufficient or not. I just received information from my logistics (department) that they had received the uniforms,” she said.

Witness Joaquim dos Reis, a public servant in the Ministry of Justice’s supply department, said he signed the tender document but did not know much about it.

“I don’t know this document, I just signed (it),” he said.

If found guilty, Ms Lobato could face between one and four years in prison under the penal codes covering the abuse of power and maladministration.

Ms Lobato and Mr Antonio Freitas were present in the court yesterday, but Mr Lopes was not.

The court has summoned 25 witnesses to attend the trial, which continued today.

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