29 December 2017

Mozambique: Valentina Guebuza Murder - Prosecution Calls for Maximum Sentence

Maputo — The prosecution has called on the Maputo City Court to sentence businessman Zofimo Muiuane to the maximum prison term for the first degree murder of his wife, Valentina Guebuza, daughter of former President Armando Guebuza, on 14 December 2016.

The Friday session of Muiuane's trial was devoted to the closing statements from the prosecution and the defence.

Prosecutor Armando Parruque declared that Muiuane's guilt had been established beyond doubt, and since here were no attenuating circumstances, he should be sentenced to the maximum penalty of 24 years imprisonment.

He was supported by the lawyer for the Guebuza family, Alexandre Chivale, who said Muiuane had acted in a deliberate and premeditated fashion. “The only thing the defendant came to this trial to do was to lie, lie and lie, nothing else”, declared Chivale.

The claim by Muiuane that his wife had fired the fatal shots, “when she is not here to defend herself, shows the calculating character with which he staged everything”, accused the lawyer.

Chivale noted that Muiuane had committed two other crimes - the illegal possession of firearms, and the falsification of documents. The document in question is a forged South African passport, bearing Muiuane's photograph, but in the name of Washington Dube.

Muiuane claimed that this fake document was issued by the Mozambican Security and Intelligence Service (SISE). He painted himself as a spy carrying out missions abroad for SISE, the nature of which he could not specify for reasons of “national security”.

Muiuane's cloak and dagger act allowed Chivale to suggest that perhaps there were others involved in the murder. It raised suspicions that “the defendant had a mentor or mentors. He did not act alone. He had objectives that went beyond the death of Valentina”.

In court he had called himself “a man of missions”, and so Chivale suggested that “the murder of Valentina was another mission among many others that he may have been given and carried out”.

The Guebuza family, he said, wanted to know “who is behind this criminal”, who had behaved in court “with such arrogance and disrespect”.

As for the defence, Muiuane's lawyers made the bold claim that there was no evidence tying their client to the murder.

They claimed there had been inadequate investigation of the crime scene. No fingerprints were taken from the bullets fired, or the spent cartridges, nor was there any biological examination of Valentina Guebuza's clothing.

They also said, accurately, that no ultraviolet examination was made to discover who had really fired the fatal shot, and thus had gunpowder residue on their hands. But this objection had already been answered by the forensic experts who testified - they told the court they did not have the necessary equipment for these tests.

The defence said the argument by ballistics expert, Alexandre Uamba, that it was technically impossible for Valentina to have shot herself were “absurd”.

But one key argument of the experts was that, even if Valentina had pulled the trigger once, that first shot did such damage to vital organs that she would have been quite unable to fire a second shot. And there is no doubt that two bullets struck Valentina.

The defence also seized on the fact that nobody else in the house heard the shots as evidence that they must have been fired at point blank range, as Muiuane had claimed, in a hand to hand struggle as he attempted to disarm his wife.

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