Portugal's armed forces launched a nationwide manhunt on Monday (30 June) to round up former secret police agents who escaped en masse from the country's newest security jail, Alcoentre, 40 miles (65 kms) east of Lisbon.
Portugal's armed forces launched a nationwide manhunt on Monday (30 June) to round up former secret police agents who escaped en masse from the country's newest security jail, Alcoentre, 40 miles (65 kms) east of Lisbon. Eighty-eight members of the disbanded PIDE - DGS are reported to have got away on Sunday (29 June) by; cutting through the iron bars of their cells and lowering themselves on badsheets over the walls.
By noon, twenty men had been recaptured. Most were believed to have gone into hiding in the hills and forests around Alcoentre and it was there that their families headed when they learned of the breakout, hoping to find their menfolk before the troops or vigilantes.
Units of Portugal's Copcon Internal Security Forces were placed on the alert and thousands of cars were checked at road-blocks while troops and "Popular forces" combed the countryside near the jail.Armed groups of civilian vigilantes were reported to have set up barricades near Alcoentre to intercept the prisoners. Long queues of cars built up on the roads to Lisbon while troops carried out strict checks.
The military prison services put the breakout down to a "psychological depression" of the prisoners caused by uncertainty over their future. The extreme left-wing has often called for the execution without trial of those connected with the old secret police. but the authorities have promised they are preparing special legislation to try all the ex-agents, only a handful of whom have ever been charged.