Mozambique: Former Ambassador to Russia Sentenced

Maputo — The Maputo City Court on Thursday sentenced the former Mozambican ambassador to Russia, Bernardo Xirinda, to ten years and eight months imprisonment for embezzlement and corruption.

The court found that Paulo Matola, the former financial attaché at the embassy, had been Xirinda's accomplice and sentenced him to nine years. The two were also sentenced to pay compensation of about 8.7 million meticais (about 142,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates) to the Mozambican state.

The court found the prosecution case against the two men largely proven. They were accused of orchestrated looting, including forging payments to people without ties to the embassy, diverting for their own purposes funds intended for goods and services for the embassy, and claiming excessive travel expenses.

Xirinda was said to have embezzled over 167,000 US dollars between 2003 and 2012. Matola was accused of facilitating Xirinda's crimes.

The ambassador put part of the blame on his superiors, former Foreign and Cooperation Ministers Leonardo Simão and Oldemiro Baloi, both of whom told the court that they had not authorised any improper payments.

Xirinda was once a member of the Central Committee of the ruling Frelimo Party, and even of the Central Committee secretariat.

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