“Exemplary sentence” demanded against former minister

Maputo (AIM) – The Mozambican Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday urged the Maputo City Court to pass “an exemplary sentence” against former Justice Minister Abdurremane Lino de Almeida, who is on trial for corruption charges.

The prosecution charged Almeida with abuse of office and making undue payments. He had visited Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, in 2015 with three people who had no contractual ties to the Mozambican state, and the entire 21 day visit had been paid for with state funds. The cost to the state was 1.78 million meticais (about 29,700 US dollars, at current exchange rates).

Almeida does not deny that he and the others did indeed make the trip and that all expenses were paid for by the Mozambican state. His sole defence was that he was carrying out instructions given by President Filipe Nyusi.

But last week the Minister in the President’s Office, Adelaide Amurane, said she knew of no such authorization. Presidential instructions, she explained, take the form of dispatches, and there was no dispatch from Nyusi authorizing a trip to Mecca.

Summing up the prosecution case on Monday, prosecutor Jacinta Malulove stressed that, as a jurist, and as a guardian of legality, Almeida knew perfectly well that he could not make a visit that was not programmed or budgeted for.

“The accused abused his position”, she said. “It is clear that he ignored the laws. As a jurist, he had the right to refuse illegal orders. As a public servant with long experience, he had a duty to comply with the norms and set an example to his peers in observing the norms”.

Almeida’s lawyer, Augusto Chivangue, cited his client’ military background as a justification for his acts. Almeida is a retired general, who is now on the reserve list. Because of his military past, he argued, there was no way Almeida could disobey an order given by Nyusi, who is commander-in-chief of the defence and security forces.

In law, this argument is simply wrong. Nobody, military or civilian, can be obliged to obey illegal orders, no matter who gives them.

In this case, the alleged order was merely verbal, and there is no written version of it, as Chavangue admitted.

Judge Joao Guilherme announced that he will deliver the court’s verdict and sentence on 14 July.

Post published in: Africa News

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