Maputo — The Nampula City court, in northern Mozambique, on Wednesday sentenced two people to nine months imprisonment for attempting to slip extra votes into ballot boxes at a Nampula polling station during the general and provincial elections held on 15 October.
According to a report carried by the independent television station STV, judge Mohamed Khalide found it proven that the two men, Luis Florindo and Ivandro Manuel, had practiced an electoral crime and attempted to manipulate the results.
In addition to the nine month prison sentence, Khalide fined the two accused four months of the minimum wage (totalling 14,568 meticais - about 235 US dollars, at current exchange). They must also pay legal costs of 1,100 meticais.
Neither Florindo nor Manuel were in court to hear the sentence. The previous week they had been granted, and paid, bail of 100,000 meticais each. The fact that they could raise such a sum - very large by Mozambican standards - almost instantly, suggests that they were not working alone.
The main opposition party, Renamo, had brought the case to court, and was satisfied at the outcome. Local Renamo election agent, Issufo Alane, told STV the case was clear proof of the accusations that the ruling Frelimo Party had committed fraud.
"This sentence is unequivocal proof that Renamo is right and that there was indeed ballot box stuffing", said Alane. "That's what interested us, and I, as an election agent, am happy to know that justice has been done".
The two men's defence lawyer, however, announced that they are appealing against the sentence, which has the effect of suspending it.