Mozambique: Matavel Murder - Police Commander Implicated

Maputo — According to a report in Thursday's issue of the independent newsheet "Carta de Mocambique", one of those arrested for the murder of civil society activist Anastacio Matavel on 7 October, has implicated the Gaza provincial commander of the Special Operations Group (GOE) of the riot police (UIR) in the assassination.

Matavel was Executive Director of the Forum of NGOs of Gaza province (FONGA), and was Gaza focal point for the election observation coalition, known as the Sala da Paz (Peace Room). He was gunned down in broad daylight after opening an election observation training session in the southern city of Xai-Xai.

The assassins failed to make a clean getaway. They were chased by a police car, and as they tried to speed out of Xai-Xai, their car crashed with two other vehicles. Two of the killers died in the crash, and two others, one of them seriously injured, were taken into police custody. The fifth made his escape and is on the run.

With most of the assassins dead or in custody, the police came clean, and admitted that the death squad consisted of police officers, believed to be members of the GOE.

According to the newssheet, one of the survivors, Euclidio Mapulasse, questioned by an investigating magistrate, said that the GOE Gaza commander, Tudelo Guirrugo, had given the order "to take Matavel out of circulation" on 19 September.

Immediately after the murder, the general commander of the police, Bernadino Rafael, suspended from duty both Guirrugo and the Gaza commander of the riot police, Alfredo Macuacua.

"Carta de Mocambique" looked at the Facebook accounts of Guirrego and of the assassins, and found that the Commander was a Facebook "friend" of all the killers - the two in custody (Mapulasse and Edson Silica), the two who died in the crash (Nobrega Chauque and Marins William) and the fugitive (Agapito Matavel). The five members of the death squad also "friended" each other on Facebook.

There has been no sign of Agapito Matavel since he fled the scene of the crime over a fortnight ago. A warrant is out for his arrest.

The General Command of the police set up a Commission of Inquiry into the assassination and gave it 15 days to present a detailed report. Assuming that the 15 days began on 8 October, the report should have been presented by Wednesday - but there has been no word from the police as to whether or not the Commission of Inquiry has completed its task.

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