MAPUTO– Prosecutors in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado have charged a Chinese-owned company, Mozambique First International Development Ltd (MOFID) with contraband involving the attempted illegal export of 47 containers found to contain 1,125 logs of various species of precious hardwoods.
The crime was discovered more than a decade ago, on Jan 17, 2006 following an anonymous tip-off, which led the authorities to open the containers which were stored in the port of Pemba, the provincial capital, waiting to be exported to China.
A multi-sectoral commission was set up, which worked in January 2007, listing all the logs found in the containers. The commission found that senior MOFID staff had ordered that the logs be packed into containers without the legally necessary presence of any inspector from the provincial forestry department.
The prosecutors said the MOFID staff were fully aware of the illegality of their actions, but went ahead anyway, in the knowledge that the illegal export would be highly profitable for the company and its partners.
The Cabo Delgado provincial attorney’s office has not explained why it took so long to bring charges in such an open and shut case of trafficking in timber. The current government has slapped an outright ban on all exports of unprocessed logs.
The Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, has spearheaded a drive to clamp down on environmental crimes. In last year’s Operation Trunk, around 150,000 cubic metres of illicitly logged timber were seized from timber yards across northern and central Mozambique.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK