Maputo — The Montepuez district court, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado has sentenced seven people to 18 months imprisonment for facilitating the illegal mining of rubies in the concession granted to the company Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM).
Only six were in court to hear the verdict and sentence. The whereabouts of the seventh accused are unknown, and he was tried in absentia.
According to an MRM press release, because the six who attended the trial were first offenders, the court converted the prison terms into fines at the rate of 300 meticais (about five US dollars at current exchange rates) a day. The total fine each of them must pay is thus 164,100 meticais.
In addition, the six must pay MRM compensation of 300,000 meticais.
The accused are three agents of the Mozambican police force (Celestino Jussa, Joaquim Alberto and Malimo Afonso), three workers for the private security company GardaWorld (Daniel Almeida, Armando Semenha and Feliciano Januario), and an MRM official, Ahmade Francisco, who was supposed to deal with security matters.
The court found that the group had worked together to facilitate illegal mining in the MRM concession, and the artisanal miners who invaded the concession paid them for their assistance.
The Cabo Delgado provincial police command has initiated disciplinary proceedings against the three police agents, and GardaWorld and MRM itself are taking similar action against their employees involved in the crime.
MRM says it will donate the compensation of 300,000 meticais to assist the people displaced by terrorist attacks in other parts of the province.