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Three of the 17 inmates who escaped from Beira Central Prison on 6 August have now been recaptured, according to the Sofala provincial chief prosecutor, Carolina Azarias, cited on Thursday by the independent television station STV.
Those recaptured include Moniz Ernesto Banco, one of the men charged with a spectacular robbery in broad daylight against a branch of the country’s largest commercial bank, the Millennium-BIM, in central Beira in which more than 27 million meticais (about 443,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates) was stolen. A second man charged with this crime, Ismael Macorreia, also escaped and is still at large.
“The investigations into the raid on the Millennium-BIM branch are continuing, based on the information provided by those who were arrested”, said Azarias. That information included the location of goods purchased with the proceeds from the robbery, such as houses, a mini-bus, and pick-up trucks.
“These are being treated as separate cases. They are still under investigation and in due time they will be sent to court”, she said.
She named the other two men recaptured as Goncalves Tomocene, who was serving a 15 year jail sentence, and Pascoal Fombe, a remand prisoner accused of theft who was awaiting trial when the breakout occurred.
Azarias said that most of the escapees still at large were serving prison sentences of between eight and 22 years for serious crimes. “We are urging the fugitives to turn themselves in”, she said, “or their relatives to persuade them to hand themselves over to the authorities”.
In the mass escape, two vehicles were used – a Ford Ranger rescued the Millennium-BIM thieves, and got away. But a second light vehicle was besieged by civilians near the prison, who seized the driver. Those escapees who were unable to board the Ford Ranger had to make their getaway on foot.
Following the escape, six people, mostly prison guards were detained, accused of facilitating the breakout.
Azaraias also told STV that three Sofala teachers, and three game wardens from the Gorongosa National Park have been arrested for poaching elephants inside the park.
When they were stopped at a checkpoint by other wardens, they first tried to bribe their way out of trouble. But the wardens did not accept the bribe: instead they searched the vehicle and found elephant tusks and precious stones. It is not yet clear where the stones came from.
Azarias said she was concerned that teachers, the very people who should be teaching children to respect the environment, were committing environmental crimes.
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