4 January 2016

Mozambique: Suspected Kidnap Boss Arrested

Photo: Interpol
Mozambique Republic Police escort kidnapping suspects to their court hearing (file photo).

Maputo — The Mozambican police have confirmed the deportation to Maputo of Danish Satar, one of the men believed to have masterminded the wave of kidnappings that hit Mozambican cities as from late 2011.

The arrest of Satar was thanks to collaboration with Interpol, which picked him up in Rome in November. After contacts between Interpol and the Italian and Mozambican authorities, Satar was returned to Maputo, where he arrived on Friday.

According to a report in Monday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, Satar is currently being held in the cells of the Maputo City police command. He must now be presented to a judge to validate his detention. The crime for which he was arrested is not kidnapping, but “disobedience” - however, “Mediafax” suggests that the crimes of kidnapping and “private imprisonment” could be added to the charge, in the light of cases currently in the hands of the courts and the Public Prosecutor's Office.

Apparently Satar did not know that his name was on an Interpol watch list. When he and his wife checked into the Rome hotel, the staff did a routine search, found that he was a wanted man, and contacted Interpol.

The Mozambican police first requested Interpol assistance to track down Danish Satar in mind-2012, when he was believed to be in Dubai. According to a report at the time, carried by the independent weekly “Savana”, the police believed that Danish Satar was a middleman between the kidnappers on the ground, and the men ordering the kidnaps. One of those men giving the orders was thought to be Danish's father, Asslam Abdul Satar, last heard of living in Pakistan.

Asslam Satar was one of the masterminds of the gigantic bank fraud of 1996, in which the equivalent of 14 million dollars was siphoned out of the country's largest bank, the Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM) on the eve of its privatization.

The money poured out of the bank into fraudulent accounts that Asslam's accomplice, BCM branch manager Vicente Ramaya, allowed to be set up in the names of members of the Abdul Satar crime family. Key members of the family, including Asslam, fled the country and thus escaped arrest.

Asslam's brother, Momade Assife Abdul Satar (“Nini”), and Ramaya were sentenced to long prison terms for their part in the BCM fraud. By that time, both of them, plus another of Asslam's brothers, Ayob Abdul Satar, were serving sentences for ordering the murder of investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso in November 2000.

A high ranking (but anonymous) police officer cited by “Savana” said that, during the police interrogations of the arrested kidnappers, Danish Satar's name has been repeatedly mentioned. “Our investigations indicate that this young man is the main bridge between the alleged kidnappers and those who are ordering the kidnaps”, said the paper's source.

The police, “Savana” claims, believed that Satar negotiated the ransoms to be paid for the release of the victims, and gave the orders to release them once the money had been paid. The police searched Satar's house, in the plush Maputo neighburhood of Sommerschield, and seized two luxury vehicles, one belonging to Satar's brother-in-law.

Danish Satar has also been one of those looking after Nini Satar's business interests, while the latter serves his sentence. Nini Satar used to enjoy an extraordinary liberal regime in the Maputo top security prison, where he had no problem in obtaining mobile phones, and in using members of his family (such as his sister Rachida, his wife Sheila Issufo, and Danish Satar) to run his businesses.

However, when a major kidnap trial took place in September 2013, the accused claimed they did not know Danish Satar.

As for Nini Satar, his name too was repeatedly mentioned as supposedly ordering the kidnappings. Satar denied this, of course, and claimed that he was collaborating with the police in order to ensure the arrest of the real masterminds behind the kidnap gangs.

Infuriated by such claims, the general command of the police retorted that “Nini is not helping the police identify kidnappers as some of the press would have us believe. The sole truth is that Nini is the boss of the kidnaps, and the police will continue its role in fighting this phenomenon”.

In 2013, prosecutors tried to include Nini Satar in a list of those accused of the kidnappings. A Maputo judge, Aderito Malhope, ruled there was not enough evidence to charge Satar.

Nini Satar was released from prison in September 2014, after serving half his sentence for the Cardoso murder. His early release was justified on the grounds of “good behaviour” in prison - despite his repeated use of equipment that is banned from prisons, such as mobile phones.

Prisoners on parole are suppose to stay in the country and report regularly to the court that freed them. But the Maputo City Court - judge Malhope again - authorized Satar to travel to India for medical treatment. Once outside Mozambique Satar decided he would like to be treated elsewhere, and so he decided to fly to London. He should have reported back to the Maputo Court on 15 April 2015, but did not do so.

He is thus a fugitive, and may well still be living in London - although some of the recent photos on his Facebook page seem to have been taken in Lisbon, and he has also used Facebook to boast of regular visits to Monaco.


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