Friday, May 8, 2015


Some reports are as revealing for what they leave out as for what they contain.
The report on the state of justice in Mozambique delivered in the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, by Attorney-General Beatriz Buchili, was startling for its complete omission of one of the major scandals that stained the judicial system in 2014 – the early release of one of Mozambique’s most notorious assassins, Momad Assife Abdul Satar (“Nini”).
Resultado de imagem para nini satar e carlos cardososSatar was one of the three businessmen found guilty of ordering the murder, in November 2000, of Mozambique’s top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso. He was sentenced to a prison term of 24 years and six months, but was released after serving only half this sentence.
It is true that prisoners become eligible for control after serving half their sentence – but only if they have shown behaviour while in jail. The Public Prosecutor’s office did not believe there was any sign of such good behavior.
Mobile phones were smuggled repeatedly into Satar’s cell in the Maputo top security prison, allowing him to remain in contact with his associates beyond the prison walls. He was also able to open and maintain a Facebook page – even though prisoners are not allowed access to cell phones and computers.
Satar’s name was repeatedly mentioned as supposedly ordering the wave of kidnappings of businessmen of Asian origin that began in late 2011. Satar denied this, of course, and claimed that he was collaborating with the police in order to ensure the arrest of the real masterminds behind the kidnap gangs.
Infuriated by such claims, the general command of the police retorted that “Nini is not helping the police identify kidnappers as some of the press would have us believe. The sole truth is that Nini is the boss of the kidnaps, and the police will continue its role in fighting this phenomenon”.
In 2013, prosecutors tried to include Satar in a list of those accused of the kidnappings. A Maputo judge, Aderito Malhope, ruled there was not enough evidence to charge Satar.
It was also judge Malhope who, the following year, ordered Satar’s release. But the judge seemed to have forgotten that the murder of Carlos Cardoso was not the only crime committed by Satar.
He was also found guilty of the major fraud in which the equivalent of 14 million US dollars was stolen from what was then the country’s largest bank, the BCM (Commercial Bank of Mozambique), on the eve of its privatization.
For this crime Satar was sentenced to 14 years. The Maputo City Court should have rolled the sentences for the murder and the fraud into a single prison term. This would not have been a simple addition of the two sentences, but it would have been more than the 24 years and six months handed down for the Cardoso assassination.
In effect, Satar has not served a day of his sentence for the BCM fraud. The patient and detailed work of those honest prosecutors who brought the complex fraud case to trial was thus cast aside.
And to date Satar has not paid a cent in compensation to his victims. The six men found guilty of assassinating Carlos Cardoso were ordered to pay the equivalent of 588,000 dollars in compensation to his two children. According to the Cardoso family lawyer, Lucinda Cruz, so far nothing at all has been paid.
Satar and his co-conspirators were also ordered to repay what they stole from the BCM. But none of that money has been repaid either.
None of this, however, found its way into Buchili’s stoically upbeat report. It might spoil the euphoria reflected in the Panglossian headline in Friday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias” which proclaimed “Justice records advances”.
Satar seems to imagine that he is untouchable. He pays none of the compensation ordered by the Maputo City Court in two major criminal cases, but publicly boasts that he is a very wealthy man.
For instance, on his Facebook page Satar recently declared “I am blessed with money and the taste to buy whatever there is of the best quality in the world. My wardrobe alone is worth millions of dollars”.
So where did this wealth come from? Why has the Maputo City Court not made it its business to find out how a man who was in jail just a few months ago, now claims to own clothes worth millions of dollars? A reasonable suspicion is that perhaps these are some of the same millions of dollars siphoned from the BCM.
The Satar scandal does not end with his taste in clothes. Prisoners on parole are suppose to stay in the country and report regularly to the court. But the Maputo City Court – judge Malhope again – authorized Satar to travel to India for medical treatment.
Now any medical treatment not available in Maputo can be acquired next door, in South Africa. So what was so special about Satar’s medical condition that he had to travel half way round the globe? And when he reached India, he decided he would like to be treated elsewhere, and so he decided to fly to London. He should have reported back to the Maputo Court on 15 April, but did not do so.
Resultado de imagem para nini satar e carlos cardososA further stain on the reputation of the judiciary in this case is that Satar has rented a house in Maputo – and his landlord is a judge. What sort of a judge is it who makes money by renting property out to a convicted murderer and criminal, and one who has not paid a penny to his victims?
And this judge, Luis Mondlane, knows the case very well. For he is a member of the Supreme Court, and sat on the Supreme Court panel which judged (and rejected) Satar’s appeal against his conviction in the Cardoso assassination case.
Satar boasts on his Facebook page that he is paying Mondlane rent of 15,000 US dollars a month, and that he has rented other up-market Maputo properties “for my 40 bodyguards”.

What does Beatriz Buchili have to say about any of this? Nothing at all, to judge from her report. But as head of the country’s prosecution services, she has it in her power to insist that Satar serve his sentence for the BCM fraud, and pay the compensation ordered by the court.

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