Maputo — The trial began in Beira on Tuesday of three men accused of murdering Portuguese citizen Ines Bota on 28 December 2017, by drowning her in the Pungue river.
Only two of the accused, Jonas Maita and Danilo Lampiao, are in the dock. The third, Isaias Joao, escaped from prison and will be tried in absentia.
Maita and Lampiao both confessed to the crime, thus confirming statements they had given to the police shortly after the murder.
Bota was the financial director of Ferpinta, a Beira company that makes steel tubes. One of the three men was her personal trainer, which may explain why she gave the three a lift, after a training session at the Beira Nautical Club.
Lampiao told the court that, when the car reached the area of the Santa Isabel cemetery, the group ordered her to stop the car. Lampiao pulled out a gun and threatened to kill Bota. She did not know that the device in his hand was a toy pistol.
The gang tied her up and taped her mouth. They ordered her to drive to a wall near Beira port, where they switched cars, getting into a Nissan owned by one of the group. But the Nissan was out of fuel, and so they told Bota to give them her bank card and its PIN number, so that they could withdraw money from an ATM.
They then drove out of the city, and, as they approached the Pungue river, they decided to kill Bota, so that she would not be able to denounce and identify them. Lampiao said the idea for the murder came from the conveniently absent Isaias Joao.
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The killers threw Bota, bound hand and foot, into the river, where the fire brigade recovered her body two days later.
The following day the killers met up at an ATM in the neighbourhood of Ponta-Gea, where they used Bota’s bank card to withdraw more money and divide it between themselves.
The police were able to solve the crime thanks to the cooperation of an employee of the Beira Nautical Club, who was a close friend of Bota. He had been in the car with her on the fatal evening, and she dropped him immediately before picking him the three murderers.
The police moved against the gang two days after the murder. One of them confessed to the crime and led the police to the other two.
Lampiao’s story to the court differed in a few details from the story he had told the police immediately after the arrests. Then he had admitted that the plan was to empty Bota’s accounts.
In this version, the gang demanded Bota’s bank cards, and forced Bota herself to withdraw 29,000 meticais (about 517 US dollars at current exchange rates) which the three divided among themselves.
The judge, Martinho Mucheiguere, fixed 6 May as the date for giving the court’s verdict and sentence.