Maputo — A judge in the northern Mozambican city of Nampula has postponed the trial of two men accused of attempted ballot box stuffing in Tuesday's general election because key witnesses have not shown up at the courtroom.
According to the independent television station STV, Luis Florindo and Ivandro Manuel were caught with extra ballot papers on their persons when they headed for the ballot boxes in two polling stations in the same Nampula polling centre.
They were arrested, and later on Tuesday a magistrate validated the detention and ordered that they be imprisoned until the trial.
The trial should have been held on Thursday - but judge Mohamed Khaled announced that the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the polling stations, although they had been summoned to court as witnesses, had not appeared. The judge assumed they must still have been involved in counting the votes - which is most unlikely, since the polling station count should have been completed on Wednesday morning.
Khaled postponed the trial to next Wednesday, and ordered the two accused to pay bail of 100,000 meticais (about 1,610 US dollars) each. If they cannot raise this sum, they must stay in prison until the trial.
A polling station monitor of the main opposition party, Renamo, told STV there was no doubt about the guilt of the two men, and their crimes had been written down in the polling station minutes.
A further case of alleged ballot box stuffing, this time involving polling station staff members (MMVs) is underway in Mutarara district, in the western province of Tete,
According to reports from correspondents of the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), the five accused are mainly polling station chairpersons and deputy chairpersons from the Inhangoma administrative post, accused by Renamo of slipping extra ballot papers to known members of the ruling Frelimo Party.