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The trial of notorious assassin Momad Assife Abdul Satar (“Nini”) and two of his alleged accomplices on charges of corruption and forgery has been postponed because an appeal has been lodged against the case going to trial at all, reports Friday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
This is the second appeal Satar’s lawyers have lodged with the Maputo Higher Appeals Court. The first was an appeal that he should be released from preventive detention, and his earlier parole status restored. The Appeals Court threw this out and ruled that he must stay in prison while awaiting trial.
Satar is one of three business people who, in January 2003, were found guilty of ordering the murder, in November 2000, of the country’s foremost investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso. Satar was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment, but was released on parole in 2014 after serving just half his sentence, on the ground that he had shown “good behaviour” while in the Maputo top security prison.
Police and prosecutors were angered by Satar’s early release. They were convinced that, far from being a model inmate, Satar had been active, from his prison cell, in planning other crimes, including the kidnappings of business people. Satar never had any problem in acquiring cell phones, even though such devices are not allowed inside prisons.
Furthermore, Satar never paid a penny of the compensation to Cardoso’s children ordered by the Maputo court, and which was an integral part of his sentence.
Satar was charged in a 2013 kidnap case – but the judge scrubbed his name from the list of suspects. That same Maputo judge, Aderito Malhope, later in 2014, authorised Satar’s request to travel abroad, supposedly for medical treatment, though it was not stated what condition he suffered from which required treatment outside of Mozambique.
He claimed he was going to India, but Satar never set foot in that country.
The PGR continued to investigate Satar’s connections with the kidnappings and his name was on the charge sheet in two cases opened in early 2017. During these investigations, said a PGR statement of April 2017, “it was found that the accused, Momad Assife Abdul Satar, formed a criminal organization with the purpose of kidnapping Mozambican citizens, so that later large amounts of money in ransom could be demanded”.
In light of these findings, the PGR issued an international arrest warrant, and asked the Maputo City Court to revoke Satar’s parole status. The City Court agreed and cancelled Satar’s parole in a dispatch dated 21 April 2017. From that moment, Satar became a fugitive.
With the assistance of Interpol, Satar was tracked down to Thailand, where he was arrested on 25 July this year, and swiftly deported to Maputo.
The trial that has now been postponed concerns, not the kidnappings, but the false Mozambican passport Satar had been using in Thailand. This passport was in the name of Sahime Mohammed Aslam. This name belongs to a real person, who is Satar’s nephew. He is the son of Satar’s elder sister, Farida Satar, who fled from Mozambique rather than face trial on charges of fraud.
It is believed that Satar or one of his associates bribed an official in the National Immigration Service (SENAMI), Cidalia dos Santos, to issue the fake passport. This was enough for prosecutors to charge him with corruption, forgery and using a false name. Sahime Aslam and Cidalia dos Santos have also been charged.
Dos Santos has worked at SENAMI for more than ten years, and she is under investigation for other crimes, notably granting Mozambican passports to foreign citizens.
A trial date can only be set after the appeal has been heard. Meanwhile, Satar and his alleged accomplices must stay in prison.Source: All Africa