Mozambique: Heavy Sentences Demanded for Policemen Turned Thieves

Maputo — The prosecution has called for "exemplary sentences" against five Mozambican police officers accused of involvement in the theft of ten million meticais (about 144,000 US dollars at current exchange rates) from a Maputo casino, reports Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique".

Seven people - five policemen and two casino employees - have been charged with the theft, which took place on 31 July 2019. The manager of the Marina Casino, accompanied by one of the casino's drivers, had just withdrawn ten million meticais from a Maputo bank.

As they were driving away from the bank, they were blocked by two other vehicles. Two men left these cars and approached the manager, presenting themselves as police officers. The casino driver, disobeying the manager's instructions, unlocked the car and facilitated the theft, allowing the policemen-turned-gangsters to make off with the entire ten million meticais.

The manager ordered him to pursue the police cars, but the driver refused. For the prosecution this was evidence that the driver was part of the gang. Indeed, when he was arrested, he confessed that the robbery was his idea - although he later claimed that he made the confession because the police had tortured him.

Four policemen and the driver are in the dock. A fifth police officer and the casino administrator are on the run.

The prosecution called for heavy sentences, particularly for the police agents, whose behaviour was made worse by the fact that they are supposed to be public servants.

"Police agents should defend public order and security, but these ones opted for criminal behaviour", said the prosecuting attorney.

The accused have denied all the accusations against them. The court is expected to deliver its verdict and sentence on 24 June.

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