Cablegate: Drug Trafficking Admiral Returns to Guinea-Bissau

DE RUEHDK #1547 3631638
R 291638Z DEC 09





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Drug Trafficking Admiral Returns to Guinea-Bissau

1. (SBU) Summary: Former Naval chief of staff, Admiral Jose Americo
Bubo Na Tchuto, has returned to Guinea-Bissau. Na Tchuto, widely
suspected of being involved in narcotics trafficking and involvement
in an attempted assassination of former President Joao Bernardo
Vieira, fled from the Gambia where he reportedly was under loose
house arrest. A political officer working in the United Nations
Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) told
Poltical Counselor that Na Tchuto has sought refuge at UNOGBIS
headquarters and is asking for protection and guarantees for his
safety before agreeing to leave the UNOGBIS. The Government is
currently negotiating with UNOGBIS regarding how to proceed.
According to the Prime Minister's diplomatic counselor, the GOGB
would prefer that Na Tchuto be sent into exile into another country.
End summary.

2. (SBU) According to the UN political officer Richard Freeman, Na
Tchuto entered UNOGBIS headquarters in Bissau on December 28
unannounced and without official permission. He then requested
protection and assistance in receiving asylum or safety guarantees
were he to remain in country. Na Tchuto alleges that he is not safe
from Bissau-Guinean military and law enforcement authorities.

3. (SBU) Na Tchuto, who is suspected of involvement in the November
2008 attempted assassination and/or coup d'etat against the late
former President Joao Bernardo Vieira, says that he is willing to
face justice and defend his innocence. However, he argues that he
is not safe in Guinea-Bissau, citing the April beating of his
attorney, Pedro Infanda, as proof to that effect. (Note: Infanda
was apparently beaten by members of the armed forces, ostensibly on
orders from the current chief of staff, Admiral Zamora Induta, for
publicly criticizing Zamora and Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior,
characterizing their actions following the March assassination of
Vieira as a "coup d'etat." End note.) Joseph Mutaboba, the
Representative of the UN Secretary General (RSG) and head of
UNOGBIS, is out of the country on vacation. However, he has been in
regular contact with the officer-in-charge (OIC) and is overseeing
negotiations from afar.

4. (SBU) Mario Lopes da Rosa, the prime minister's diplomatic
adviser, told PolCouns that the Government is primarily interested
in finding a country that would accept Na Tchuto as an exile. Lopes
da Rosa said that while it would be best, in theory, for Na Tchuto
to be tried by national authorities for his suspected role in the
2008 attempted assassination of Vieira, it is not "realistic."
According to Lopes da Rosa, the government of the Gambia was unaware
that Na Tchuto was planning to leave the country and has indicated
it might be willing to allow Na Tchuto to return. The GOGB will be
making an official pronouncement regarding Na Tchuto later today, he

5. (SBU) Comment: Na Tchuto's presence in Guinea-Bissau is
inherently destabilizing. Na Tchuto is widely believed to continue
to have support among some military personnel, particularly in the
navy. Reportedly, before fleeing to UNOGBIS headquarters, he was
able to deny the Armed Forces Chief of Staff Admiral Induta access
to a navy facility, ostensibly with the armed support of at least
some of the facility's personnel. Moreover, the Government's desire
to see Na Tchto sent into exile, rather than tried, is indicative of
the poor state of Guinea-Bissau judicial capacity. The country has
no maximum security prison; indeed, there is no prison of any kind
in Bissau. Were Na Tchuto to remain in-country, authorities would
have no effective means of preventing him from acting to destabilize
the government. Conversely, Na Tchuto is correct to allege that he
would not necessarily be safe if he were to remain in Guinea-Bissau
to stand trial. The military and security forces have been guilty
of arbitrary detentions and beatings of people accused of far less
than Na Tchuto. One thing is clear - it will be difficult for the
Government, already weakened by the absence of newly elected
President Malam Bacai Sanha due to illness, to focus on security
sector reform or much else while Na Tchuto remains in country. End


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