6 September 2012

Mozambique: Government Must Pay for Child Killed By Police

Maputo — Mozambique's Administrative Tribunal has ordered the government to pay compensation of 500,000 meticais (about 17,420 US dollars) to the family of an 11 year old child, killed by a stray police bullet in rioting in September 2010, reports Thursday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax".

The child, Helio Muianga, was not taking part in the riots. He was returning from school on 1 September 2010 when a police bullet struck him in the head. The riots were against price rises, and led to clashes between rioters and police in several parts of Maputo. The police were manifestly unprepared to deal with serious rioting, and resorted to live ammunition, killing a total of 14 people.

The initial ruling from the Administrative Tribunal, ordering payment of the compensation to Helio's mother, Rute Muianga, came on 6 June - but the Public Prosecutor's Office (which acts as the lawyer for the state in such cases) promised to appeal.

On 20 June, an appeal was lodged with the Tribunal, but there had clearly been no coordination between the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of the Interior. Apparently unaware that an appeal had been lodged, the Deputy Interior Minister, Jose Mandra, publicly announced that the government would comply with the Tribunal ruling and pay the compensation.

Faced with this, the Public Prosecutor's office felt it had no option but to withdraw the appeal which it did on 12 July.

The Tribunal has now simply reiterated its earlier ruling. With no avenues of appeal open, the government must pay the compensation by the end of September.

The Tribunal's ruling was unanimous, signed by its Presient, Machatine Munguambe, and by nine other judges.

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