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Mozambique court frees Renamo ‘suspects

APA

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A court in Mozambique has freed some members of the opposition Renamo movement detained in April in connection with the killing of four anti-riot police during clashes in the town of Muxungue.A spokesman for the former rebel turned political party revealed that the Sofala Provincial Court has ordered the release of 13 of the 15 Renamo supporters accused of causing the death of the security personnel and thereby disturbed public peace.

Fernando Mazanga said that the 13 were set free on Friday.

“The government had no case against them, therefore they had no option but to release them” Mazanga confirmed to the African Press Agency (APA) in an interview on Sunday.

The independent television station STV also reported that the Sofala branch of the Public Prosecutor’s Office had declined to press charges against the 13 men, leaving the court with no option but to release them.

However, the remaining two suspects remain in preventive detention because, according to the police, they were among an armed Renamo group blamed for the attack on the Muxungue police post on 4 April, which left four anti-riot police dead and ten injured.

Arnaldo Tivane, a lawyer for Renamo, told STV “the party and I as the lawyer in the case, will continue working for their release”.

The Renamo office in Muxungue had been accommodating about 150 former guerrilla fighters, attracting the attention of the police who suspected that the camp was being used as a military base.

At the time, Armando Machoue, administrator of Chibabava district, where Muxungue is located, said that the presence of armed Renamo men was disturbing the local people, who were afraid to venture to their fields.

The local authorities had called for police intervention to disperse the former guerrillas who had reportedly refused and were arrested.

Releasing the 15 detainees is one of the pre-conditions demanded by Renamo, without which it will not resume dialogue with the government.

The Frelimo government last week pointed out that the matter was in the hands of the judiciary, not the executive.

In respect for the constitutionally enshrined separation of powers, and the independence of the courts and prosecution services, the government could not intervene and simply order their release.

A further Renamo pre-condition is that the riot police be removed from the Renamo camp in the northern city of Nampula, occupied by the police after clashes in March 2012, and from the vicinity of Satunjira, in the central district of Gorongosa, where Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama currently resides.

Renamo also wants the appointment of domestic facilitators and foreign observers, from bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union and the European Union, to take active part in the next rounds of talks, a demand which the Frelimo government rejected.

The next round of dialogue is scheduled for Monday morning.

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