Portuguese army officers arrested over trainee deaths
Seven Portuguese military officers were arrested Thursday as an investigation was under way into the deaths of two recruits during an army exercise in September, the prosecutor's office said.
The seven officers are suspected of deliberately failing to assist a person in danger and of causing them physical harm, the prosecutor’s office told AFP.
The two recruits — named Hugo Abreu and Dylan da Silva, both aged 20 — suffered heat stroke during a September 4 shooting exercise in Alcochete south of Lisbon.
Temperatures were soaring at over 40 degrees Celsius in the Atlantic nation that day.
One of the cadets died the same day from a heart attack, while the other died a few days later in hospital in Lisbon.
“It is very important that we know what and how it happened,” Defence Minister Jose Alberto Azeredo Lopes told reporters.
He added that, if a crime was committed, the authorities needed to uncover who was responsible.
The deaths have triggered a wave of emotion in Portugal, with the officers widely accused of abusing their authority.
One of the young men’s mothers has openly accused an officer of murdering her son.
“After he fell to the ground, a sergeant forced him to breathe in and swallow sand,” Angela Abreu told public television channel RTP.
An autopsy report cited by the Expresso weekly magazine said Dylan da Silva died from liver failure. His body showed marks of traumatic injuries to his abdomen, head, arms and legs.