There was a time when Mozambican Judge Efigénio Baptista’s name and picture were ubiquitous: after all, Baptista tried the country’s so-called “hidden debts” case, in which 19 people were accused of various crimes for their role in the $2.2 billion scandal that caused a considerable stress to Mozambique’s economy.
Efigénio has not been seen publicly since delivering the sentences last December, having reverted to the discreet life of most judges in Mozambique.
But, on 24 March, the Higher Council of the Judiciary Magistrates (CSMJ) placed an advert in the daily Notícias regarding the admittance of class B judges for class A promotion exams. Judge Baptista’s name is in the list of the 32 class B judge candidates who met the eligibility criteria to sit in the class promotion exam.
However, according to the CSMJ, a further 12 judges did not meet the eligibility criteria, namely completing three years as class B judge; and a good grade.
Mozambique Insights understands that Judge Baptista only acceded to class B last year, meaning that he should be ineligible for promotion to class A judge.
Judiciary observers argue that Baptista is being rewarded for the way he conducted the trial, which at times meant supressing evidence which could implicate more actors in Mozambique, not least President Filipe Nyusi.
However, observers claim that if an interested party so willed, it could get the judiciary to open an inquest to find out whether the fast-tracking was legal or illegal.
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