3 October 2017

Mozambique: Supreme Court Criticises Lethargic Judges

Maputo — Mozambique's Supreme Court has ordered judges to speed up the processing the cases that reach their courts, particularly cases of corruption, reports Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticas".

The Supreme Court was obviously goaded into action by last week's complaint from the Attorney-General's Office (PGR) that dozens of corruption cases are simply stagnating, with courts refusing to set dates for trials.

The Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) brought charges in several of these cases 18 months ago.

Thus in March 2016, the GCCC charged the former Mozambican ambassador to Russia, Bernardo Xerinda, with embezzlement, abuse of office and payment of undue remunerations. Through these crimes he allegedly stole eight million meticais (about 131,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates) from the Mozambican state. Despite these serious charges hanging over his head, Xerinda was a guest at the Congress of the ruling Frelimo Party held in the southern city of Matola over the past week.

Also in March 2016, the GCCC charged the former general director of the National Institute of Land Transport (INATTER), Ana Dimande, with abusing her office and making illicit payments. This supposedly cost the state 11 million meticais.

In July 2016, the GCCC charged three officials of the government's Investment Promotion Centre with a fraud which cost the state coffers 32 million meticais. In August of the same year the GCCC charged four officials of the Ministry of Economy and Finance with stealing 22 million meticais of state funds.

That same month the anti-corruption office charged the former mayor of the southern town of Manhica, Alberto Chicuamba, and his former councillor for finance, Andrade Machava, of embezzlement and other economic crimes, in which over 1.1 million meticais were stolen.

The Supreme Court has now put its weighht behind the PGR complaint. In its instruction it stated "All judges should be speedy in trying cases". This applied, not just to corruption cases, but to all cases, particularly those where the accused are in preventive detention.

"We alert magistrates that they should work diligently to guarantee justice for citizens", said the Supreme Court. In the event of any difficulty, they should make the necessary consultations to avoid cases piling up unheard.

The Supreme Court promised that it will "investigate what is happening, not only with corruption cases, but also with other cases that are not making any headway".

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