The head of the Portuguese military police, Coronel Luis Vieira, was detained on Tuesday as part of the investigation on the theft of armaments at the Tancos military base, according to a press release by the public prosecutor’s office.
The arrests are part of the investigation into the reappearance of the stolen material in October 2017, said the statement. There is another investigation that focuses on the disappearance of a vast cache of weapons including grenades, plastic explosives and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, which became publicly known at the end of June last year.
In total, seven suspects were detained, including three officers of the military police and three members of the National Republican Guard. A civilian who participated in the robbery was also arrested.
The suspects were arrested for "for links with criminal activity, denial of justice, prevarication, falsifying documents, influence peddling, abuse of power, and possession of prohibited weapons."
Portuguese Defence Minister José Azeredo Lopes was informed of the arrests by the public prosecutor Joana Marques Vidal, said local media.
The public prosecutor's office believes the seven suspects were intentionally trying to protect the authors behind the theft of the weaponry.
The stolen arms were found in Loule, in southern Portugal, 295 kilometres away from Chamusca where the Tancos base is located, reported domestic newspaper Publico.
The public prosecutor's office said that searches were also being conducted in various locations in greater Lisbon, the Algarve, Porto, and Santarém.
A judge at Lisbon's Court of Criminal Investigation will decide on Wednesday the type of pre-trial custody the suspects will receive.