Mozambique: ‘Something Wrong’ in Detention of Renamo Official

Maputo – The Mozambican police have admitted that “something went wrong” in the detention last Friday of Manuel Fortunato, a senior member of the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, in the central city of Beira.

Fortunato says that policemen broke into his house on Friday and dragged him off to a cell, without even bothering to identify themselves. He told reporters from the independent television station STV that the following day he was interrogated about the attempt on the life of Renamo General Secretary Manuel Bissopo on 20 January.

The police wanted to know the whereabouts of two people who had been in the car with Bissopo, and with his bodyguard, who died in the attack. Fortunato did not know where they were, and at about 14.00 on Saturday he was released. There was no explanation about why, simply to answer a few questions, he had to be seized at home, and spend the night in a cell.

What makes this incident particularly serious is that Fortunato is a member of the elected Sofala Provincial Assembly, and the Chairperson of that Assembly’s Defence and Security Commission. Assembly members enjoy limited immunity: if the police wish to detain an Assembly member, they must first seek authorization from the Assembly.

Asked about Fortunato’s detention on Tuesday, the spokesperson for the General Command of the police, Inacio Dina, admitted that the case was highly irregular.

Cited in Wednesday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, Dina said “We are concerned to find out the truth. It is not characteristic of the police to detain an individual in that way. There was no question about calling his right to freedom into doubt”.

“I must say there was something wrong about the detention”, admitted Dina.