Mozambican prosecutor Marcelino Vilanculo murdered after being stalked by criminals

crime scene policeThe Mozambican police claimed on Tuesday that murdered prosecutor Marcelino Vilanculo, had been stalked by unknown criminals before the fatal shooting of Monday night.

Vilanculo was gunned down outside his home in the southern city of Matola at about 19.20 on Monday when he was returned from the Maputo City Attorney’s Office, where he works.

On Tuesday, at his weekly press briefing, the spokesperson for the General Command of the police, Inacio Dina, said there had been indications that the prosecutor “was being followed by criminals”. He added that evidence at the crime scene indicated that nine shots had been fired from an AK-47 assault rifle.

“We are unconditionally committed to solving this case”, declared Dina, adding that it was still “premature” to speculate on what might have been the motive for the murder.

But if the police knew criminals were stalking Vilanculo, why was he not offered protection? “There are rules for this protection”, said Dina. “The police, in general, have been guaranteeing the protection of any citizen, across the nation”.

Such bland answers provide no comfort to the judges and prosecutors on the front line of the fight against organized crime.

Dina seemed unaware that the 2007 law on the Public Prosecutor’s Office envisages security measures for prosecutors and their families. Nine years have passed and this right to security remains on paper and has not been enforced.

The Association of Attorneys of the Public Prosecutor’s Office met in Maputo on Tuesday, and pointed out that Vilanculo might still be alive if the provisions of the 2007 law had been obeyed.

The Association chairperson, Nelia Correia, cited in Wednesday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, noted that in May 2014, a Maputo City judge, Dinis Silica, was gunned down in the centre of the city, in broad daylight, as he was driving from his home to the Maputo City Court. Both Silica and Vilankulo were working on cases concerned with the wave of kidnappings of business people that has plagued Mozambican cities since late 2011.

The deaths of Silica and Vilankulo were eloquent proof that people in such positions need to be protected. “The question of security for judges and prosecutors is dealt with throughout the world”, said Correia.

Correia said that Vilanculo had been a man of great integrity. Because of his professional competence and his aversion to criminal practices, she added, he was asked to handle delicate cases.

The case he was dealing with at the time of the assassination was that of Danish Satar, accused of being one of the men behind the kidnappings, who was deported from Italy to Maputo by Interpol in December. Danish Satar is the nephew of one of the country’s most notorious murderers, Momad Assife Abdul Satar (“Nini”), one of the men found guilty of ordering the November 2000 assassination of the country’s top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso.

Nelia Correia guaranteed that the death of Vilanculo will not bring the cases he was working on to an end. “We shall continue to undertake our job with zeal and dedication”, she pledged. “In our work we are not harassing anyone. What we are doing is ensuring that law and justice are respected. Murdering a prosecutor doesn’t finish the cases.

They will continue, for that is our mission”.

Carlos Mondlane, of the Mozambican Association of Judges, also demanded protection. “In Mozambique, the courts are the only sovereign bodies that have no right to security”, he said. “The judges are just left to their fate”.

The murder of Vilanculo was clear evidence “that the demands we have raised make sense, that we are living in a state of insecurity”. The state itself was being weakened “and criminals are showing themselves ever more powerful”.

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One Response to Mozambican prosecutor Marcelino Vilanculo murdered after being stalked by criminals

  1. Pingback: Mozambique: Killings in Mozambique Target Lawyers, Judges | IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers

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