“It’s pepper spray, oh animal”: GNR soldiers torture immigrants from Odemira for fun

Immigrants assaulted and humiliated by uniformed agents in Odemira who filmed their own acts of violence. Seven GNR soldiers are accused of a total of 33 crimes, the government says one has already been fired. CNN/TVI investigation reveals descriptions and images that are in Justice

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Warning: This article contains offensive language that may hurt the sensibilities of some readers.

When the Judiciary Police seized the mobile phones of five soldiers at the GNR post in Vila Nova de Milfontes in 2019, Odemira, suspected of alleged mistreatment of immigrants, was far from imagining the reality he would stumble upon. The apparatus of a 25-year-old guard, subject to the PJ’s forensics, revealed brutal images – until now hidden by the Justice, but to which CNN Portugal and TVI had access. It consists of seven videos – with images filmed for fun by the military himself – of kidnapping, torture, humiliation, violence and racist insults to various agricultural workers in that region. So it appears in the judicial process.

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The victims, from South Asia, the majority from Bangladesh, Nepal or Pakistan, are picked up in the street, at random and free of charge, for the enjoyment of seven uniformed soldiers, serving the State, who appear in the images. They set up ambushes under the pretext of false stop operations, traffic inspection, and take immigrants to the post – where they attack and humiliate them, being subjected to various violent practices. In one of the false stop operations, GNR elements caught an immigrant who, taken to a field at night, was tortured with pepper spray, which the military forced to inhale through the mouth and nose through the tube of the alcohol meter , known as the “balloon test”.

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Meanwhile, with the victim in pain and asking for water in English, which they refuse him, they appear in this GNR military video, laughing and uttering the following sentence: “It’s pepper spray, oh animal. Son of a great bitch! Animal !”.

One of the GNR military gives an order in English for the individual to place the plastic tube in their mouth. The GNR military, while laughing, says that that tube has pepper spray inside. The man does not understand Portuguese. The GNR vehicle is still visible on the spot and you hear: “Suck it, it has pepper spray, animal!”

The Setubal Judiciary Police, which had a first case in which it was already investigating five soldiers for similar facts, but only with testimonial evidence, found irrefutable evidence about new facts – which they did not know – from the forensics on these mobile phones. A certificate was then extracted for an autonomous process, to run in secret at the Public Ministry of Odemira, in which the PJ analyzed the seven videos, frame by frame. And he contextualized all the images, captioning them with the phrases that were being uttered by the attacking military.

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GNR soldiers repeat insults like “you son of a ‘big bitch'”

Having concluded the analysis of the various situations, in an indictment of November 10 of this year and to which CNN Portugal and TVI (both Media Capital stations) had access, the Public Ministry has no doubts: “They were doing it in manifest use excessive power of authority that the position of military gives them”. More: “All the defendants acted with satisfaction and contempt for the individuals”.

As for the reasons, the prosecutor concludes: “Hate clearly directed at the nationalities they had and just because of that fact and because they knew that, because of that circumstance, they were easy targets.”

The post commander was called to the investigation and, through voices and images, identified seven of his subordinates. They are accused of a total of 33 crimes, including kidnapping, offenses to qualified physical integrity and abuse of power. Of the victims identified in the images, one has already died in an accident and others will have left the country.

In reaction to the TVI/CNN Portugal investigation, the Ministry of Internal Administration informs that one of the soldiers has already been dismissed from the GNR, with the other six being suspected of functions. The GNR, which refused to clarify the situation of the soldiers in question, only says that it does not review their conduct.

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After inhaling deeply through the mouth, as instructed in English, the individual becomes distressed and spits onto the floor. At that moment, he continues to be insulted with expressions such as “son of a bitch” and “ass of a bitch”

However, in the first case to be investigated by the PJ and in which there were no images to support the evidence but only testimonies, five soldiers were sentenced to suspended prison terms for crimes of offenses against physical integrity, kidnapping, among others. Of these five elements, three are common to this second process of the videos in which seven soldiers are identified and accused. They respond here for kidnapping, abuse of power and offenses against physical integrity.

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