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Mozambique ex-minister embezzlement sentence reduced

Former Mozambique [BBC profile] transportation minister Antonio Munguambe's sentence for embezzlement was reduced on Tuesday from 20 years in prison [JURIST report] to four years and five months. The Supreme Court of Mozambique upheld the verdict [Journal News report, in Portuguese] against Munguambe for his involvement in the embezzlement of millions of dollars from a publicly owned company, the Mozambican Airport Company (ADM). They justified the reduced sentence by stating embezzling from a public company is a lesser offense than embezzling from the government [AFP report]. Munguambe's co-defendants in the case, the company's former chief executive, the ex-finance director, Munguambe's former chief of staff and the head of an airport catering company, also received varying reduced sentences. Munguambe and the others began to serve their sentences after the proceeding.

The trial was the largest corruption proceeding brought in Mozambique since the country achieved independence from Portugal in 1975, involving the theft of USD $1.7 million from the ADM during Munguambe's tenure in office between 2005 and 2008. The trial began [AIM report] in November 2009 as part of a larger initiative of the Mozambican government [official website, in Portuguese] to reduce corruption in the government. Transparency International [advocacy website] ranks Mozambique among the most corrupt in the world [2010 CPI report, PDF]. Munguambe was removed from office by President Armando Guebuza [BBC profile] in 2008 after violent riots in Maputo sparked by an increase in the fares for bus travel, a primary source of transportation in the capital. Soon after, he and the four others were charged by prosecutors with the theft of public funds, for the abuse of functions, for making false statements and for paying undue remunerations.

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