8 May 2018

Mozambique: Colleagues Pay Tribute to Murdered Judge

Maputo — Members of the Mozambican Association of Judges (AMJ), Maputo City prosecutors, relatives and friends on Tuesday laid flowers at the spot where judge Dinis Silica was assassinated exactly four years ago.

Silica was an investigating magistrate in the Maputo City Court who was dealing exclusively with the cases of kidnappings of businessmen, mostly of Asian origin, which had shaken Mozambican cities since late 2011. There is little doubt that an organised crime network behind the kidnappings ordered Silica's murder.

The death squad acted as if convinced of its impunity. In broad daylight, on the morning of 8 May 2014, they followed Silica as he drove from his home towards the City Court. The killers drew up to his car as it was stationary at a set of central Maputo traffic lights, and opened fire. He was hit by about 20 bullets, and died on the spot.

The police investigation into the case drew blanks, and nobody was ever arrested in connection with the case.

Shockingly, the Public Prosecutor's Office gave up and closed the case in February 2017. The Maputo City Attorney's Office said that the deadline for preparatory investigation of the case had expired and the Criminal Investigation Police had found no evidence to justify continuing the case.

The City Attorney's Office issued a short statement saying "Despite the investigations conducted, especially the collection and analysis of operational information, post mortem and ballistic examinations, analysis of images collected from surveillance cameras in buildings along the route that the victim is supposed to have followed to the scene of the crime and the interviewing of witnesses, it was not possible to determine who the perpetrators of the crime were".

Silica's colleagues have not forgotten him, and have named 8 May as the "Day of the Mozambican Judge".

Speaking at the Tuesday ceremony, AMJ chairperson Carlos Mondlane demanded security for judges, and that crimes such as the Silica murder must be cleared up.

The whole point of the justice system was to guarantee public security, he said, and when the security of judges is guaranteed, the State is also guaranteeing its own security.

"Lack of protection means that we can be attacked, and when such crimes are not solved, this brings the idea that the administration of justice itself is weak, and its guardians cannot protect themselves", Mondlane stressed.

At least two other judges had also died in unexplained circumstances, he added, and so it was crucial to clear up these cases "to show that the judicial power in Mozambique is a strong power. It is not enough to say that we are shocked - these cases must be solved".

Later on Tuesday the AMJ plans to hold a round table on the theme "The role of judges in a society undergoing transformation", and will launch an "Open Door Court" programme which intends to use radio, television, schools and universities throughout the country to explain how courts work, and what judges do. The intention, the AMJ says, is to contribute to bringing justice closer to citizens.

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