Maputo — The Kampfumo district court in Maputo City on Wednesday sentenced the country's most notorious assassin, Momad Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini") to a further year's imprisonment for using a false passport.
However, the court converted the imprisonment into a fine at the rate of ten per cent of the minimum wage in the state apparatus per day. That works out to a total fine of 163,155 meticais (about 2,600 US dollars).
Satar is one of the three businessmen convicted of hiring the death squad that assassinated the country's foremost investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, in November 2000. He was given a 24 year prison sentence, but a Maputo judge, Aderito Malhope, released him on parole in 2014, after serving just half his sentence.
He claimed he needed medical treatment that is not available in Mozambique, and so intended to visit India. In fact, from his false passport, it could be seen that Satar had visited several Asian countries (including Saudi Arabia, Cambodia and Singapore), but these did not include India.
The Attorney-General's Office (PGR) continued to investigate Satar's involvement in other crimes, notably the kidnappings of business people which shook Mozambican cities as from mid-2011. The Maputo City Court revoked his parole in April 2017 and, with the help of Interpol, he was tracked down to Thailand in July 2018.
For the false passport, Satar used the name of his nephew, Sahim Mohammad Asslam, and the passport was issued by a unit of the migration service (SENAMI), that dealt with biometric passports, headed by Cidalia dos Santos, an official who is also under investigation for issuing dozens of Mozambican passports to foreign citizens, particularly Nigerians.
The prosecution seems to have mishandled the case. Both Asslam and dos Santos were in the dock alongside Satar, but both were acquitted on grounds of insufficient evidence.
According to the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique", the judge, Eusebio Lucas, said he gave Satar a light sentence because he confessed to the crime. Satar's lawyer, Damiao Cumbane, told reporters that Satar has not yet decided whether to appeal against the verdict and sentence.
It makes little practical difference, since Satar will remain imprisoned anyway. He has now returned to jail to serve the rest of his 24 year sentence for the murder of Carlos Cardoso.