Mozambique: Former Ambassador Hired Staff 'To Loot the State'

Maputo — Summing up the case against Mozambique's former ambassador to Russia, Bernardo Xirinda, who is accused of embezzlement, diversion of funds and corruption, the prosecutor Joao Nhane told the Maputo City Court on Monday that Xirinda hired a range of people simply in order to loot the state.

According to the report of the trial in Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique", one of those hired was a Russian cook, named Oslom Andenov, on a three year contract and a monthly wage of about 1,000 US dollars.

However, Andenov only worked for three months, but Xirinda continued to pay the wages in cash.

A Mozambican interpreter, Aliria Malate, was also on a three year contract. She was paid 3.050 dollars a month. She too only worked for three months, but her ages were still paid and, according to the prosecution, they were deposited in an account held by the former ambassador in New York.

Xirinda's son was studying at a university in London, with a scholarship granted by the Mozambican government. Nonetheless Xirinda ordered the embassy's financial attaché, Paulo Matola (who is also on trial, on the same charges) to transfer 7,600 dollars, supposedly to pay his son's university fees. This money too came to rest in Xirinda's New York account.

Xirinda's wife, Sonia Keda, was entitled to a monthly allowance. This should have been cancelled when she returned to Mozambique. Even so, the prosecution said that Xerinda took 16,000 dollars of his wife's allowance. Months later, she protested at the Foreign Ministry in Maputo and the money was reimbursed.

As for Matola, Nhane said he had not respected the main recommendations given to state officials, and never refused to carry out criminal instructions given by the ambassador.

Xirinda's defence lawyer, Mario Cumbane, complained that the court had not allowed witnesses to be brought from Moscow. He claimed there was no proof that the money mentioned by the prosecution had ever benefitted Xirinda.

Cumbane claimed there were different versions about the embassy employees hired for three years but who only worked for three months, and in such cases the accused should enjoy the benefit of the doubt.

The court will give its verdict and sentence on 12 September.

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