The Maputo City Court recently sentenced former Justice Minister Abdurremane Lino de Almeida to two years in prison for abuse of office and misuse of public funds. Almeida was jailed for spending 1,78 million meticais ($29 700) of public funds on a three-week trip to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, in 2015 with four people who had no contractual ties to the Mozambican state.
The court also demanded that he should repay the money and pay a fine and other costs.
Judge Joao Guilherme said that the misuse of these funds was flagrantly illegal. The judge also ruled that Almeida was guilty of grave misconduct, as he knew that there was no financial provision for the trip. He added that the jail sentence was imposed because the defendant failed to show any remorse and, in fact, claimed that there was no crime as he was following orders of his superior.
In September 2015, Almeida received an invitation from the Islamic Council to join a pilgrimage to Mecca. In response to the invitation, Almeida travelled to Mecca accompanied by four people: Amisse Baquir, Ibraimo Sulemane, Adelino Pinar and Momade Momade. All expenses for the trip including flights, meals, and hotels were paid for by the state.
Ironically, the court received testimony from the General Secretary of the Islamic Council, Abdul Carimo, that Almeida could have travelled to Mecca at no expense to the state. The Islamic Council had invited Almeida to the pilgrimage to Mecca, and it would have paid all the costs.
However, Carimo told the court that Almeida lost this opportunity because he delayed before replying. Weeks passed and the Islamic Council gave the free tickets to Mecca to other people.
Almeida was appointed Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Matters in January 2015, replacing Benvinda Levi. However, he was sacked by President Nyusi in March 2016 by which time the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) was already investigating his crimes. — AIM