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Portugal: 23 people charged in theft at national armory

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portuguese prosecutors are bringing charges against 23 people, including a former defense minister, after a two-year investigation into the theft of weapons from the national armory.

A statement Thursday from the attorney general's office says a soldier is accused of providing inside information about the armory to eight others who carried out the 2017 break-in by cutting through a perimeter fence and smashing warehouse locks.

Officials later conceded the armory's electronic surveillance system was obsolete and its security procedures lax. A further 14 people, including former Defense Minister Jose Azeredo Lopes, are accused of malfeasance and conduct that led to a denial of justice in relation to the mysterious reappearance of the weaponry in a nearby field four months later.

The statement says the weaponry was valued at 35,000 euros ($38,000).

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