(JollofNews) – A former Guinea-Bissau navy chief convicted in the US of drug trafficking has asked to resume his military career after returning home having purged his sentence, sources said Friday.
Jose Americo “Bubo” Na Tchuto was sentenced to four years in jail by a New York federal court this month but was released for time already served.
Na Tchuto, who returned home on October 22, asked President Jose Mario Vaz about resuming his military career during an audience with the West African nation’s head of state, sources said.
“I have returned from a trip which took me away from the country for three years. It’s normal that on my return that I come and see the armed forces’ commander in chief,” he told reporters.
“I discussed my return to the army with (Vaz). Now everything depends on the president. I am a veteran of this country’s war of independence, I gave everything for this country,” he added.
Asked about his case, Prime Minister Baciro Dja said Na Tchuto was “a son of the nation, a veteran of the war of independence,” adding: “He is always welcome in his country”.
“I don’t know the circumstances of his release, so I can’t make a declaration on his case,” he added.
A new navy chief, Carlos Alfredo Mandungal, was appointed in July to succeed Sanha Kluce, who died in May.
Na Tchuto was captured off the West African coast by agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration in April 2013. He pleaded guilty at his trial in May 2014 and was detained in the US until his sentencing on October 4.
His arrest, and the US indictment two weeks later of General Antonio Indjai, head of the Guinea-Bissau army, highlighted the rise in drug trafficking in West Africa, and the country’s role as a transit point for the cocaine trade.
Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by military coups and instability since its independence from Portugal in 1974, and in recent years has become a cocaine-trafficking hub.
But last November the UN’s special representative for West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas praised the country’s progress in fighting drug trafficking since President Vaz’s election in 2014.