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File photo / Judge Joao Guiherme
Mozambique’s former Minister of Justice, Abdurremane Lino de Almeida, on trial on corruption charges, has decided to drop two of his key witnesses, but on Wednesday the Maputo City court announced that it was going to call them anyway.
The Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) has charged Almeida with abuse of his office and making undue payments. He had visited Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, in 2015 with three people who had no contractual ties to the Mozambican state, and the entire 21 day visit had been paid for with state funds. The cost to the state was 1.78 million meticais (about 29,700 US dollars, at current exchange rates).
On the first day of the trial, 31 May, Almeida admitted that he did indeed spend the money, even though there was nothing in his Ministry’s budget for such visits, but claimed that he did so on the instructions of President Filipe Nyusi. He had intended to call the Minister in the President’s Office, Adelaide Amurane, to back up his story.
But, according to the report in Thursday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, without explanation, Almeida told the court he no longer required the testimony of Amurane.
He was reckoning without the judge, Joao Guilherme, who decided that, since Amurane might have useful information, she should be called upon to testify anyway. Since the defendant wouldn’t call her, the court itself would.
However, Amurane is currently out of the country, accompanying Nyusi on visits to the United States and Cuba. Nyusi’s office had informed the court that she would only be available as from 22 June. Judge Guilherme has thus scheduled her testimony for 23 June.
Almeida also had second thoughts about calling Abdul Carimo, the general secretary of the Mozambican Islamic Council (and currently also chairperson of the National Elections Commission, CNE). Almeida wanted to replace Carimo with another senior Islamic cleric, Aminudin Mohamad – but he did not show up at Wednesday’s court hearing.
Almeida said that Carimo did not wish to appear in court because of his role as chairperson of the CNE.
Guilherme decided that, as with Amurane, the court will summon Carimo to testify. It is already known that during the preliminary investigations, Carimo gave a version of the trip to Mecca that contradicts Almeida’s.
Guilherme pointed out that Carimo is being called upon in his capacity as General Secretary of the Islamic Council, and not as chair of the CNE. Nonetheless, he promised to look into the legislation to see if there is any reason why Carimo should not testify.Source: AIM
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