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Ex-Mozambique president's son goes on trial

Picture courtesy: Reuters/BBC

Nineteen defendants including a former president's son Ndambi Guebuza linked to a massive debt scandal that plunged Mozambique into its worst financial crisis has started in the capital Maputo.

The trial is being held in a large canvas tent on the grounds of a maximum-security prison in the outskirts of the capital, Maputo.

The city's courtrooms were deemed too small for the scores of lawyers, 70 witnesses and 250 media workers who have been accredited to attend. The hearing will run until 1, September.

The scandal saw the government secretly take out loans totaling around $2.0 billion in 2013 and 2014 from global investors to finance a tuna-fishing fleet and a maritime surveillance project.

The United States has alleged that at least $200 million of the total was spent on bribes to politicians and top officials.

After the revelation of the scandal, Mozambique, which relies on foreign aid and is one of the world's poorest countries, found itself cut off by donors.

Several lawsuits related to corruption cases have been lodged in the US, Switzerland, Britain, South Africa and in Mozambique.

Seven of the 19 defendants, including Ndambi Guebuza, and former spy chief have been in custody since February 2019. Former finance minister Manuel Chang has been held in South Africa since December 2019.

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