Mozambican police may seek foreign help in their investigation into a recent wave of killings and mutilations allegedly linked to the trafficking in human organs, President Joaquim Chissano said on Tuesday during a visit to Portugal.
“In every crime investigation where Mozambican authorities have faced limitations, we have asked for help from international organisations which we belong to,” he told reporters following a meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.
“But in this case before we make an appeal for help we must know what we need to ask for,” he added.
“We don’t want to invite people who could worsen the situation because they do not know the region.”
Human rights activists and Roman Catholic church officials in Mozambique contend a recent spate of killings of children and adults in the northern province of Nampula are the work of a human organ trafficking network.
But assistant attorney general Rafael Sebastiao said in February that a preliminary investigation into the allegations had found no evidence that human organs had been removed from bodies and sold.
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He said a team of forensic specialists had spent two weeks in the area and examined 14 cases of violent death or disappearances allegedly linked with the sale of organs but had concluded they were not the work of an organ trafficking network.
Last month the Mozambique Human Rights League (LDH) questioned the government’s capacity to probe “such a complex issue” and called on the authorities to seek international assistance.
The group believes a human organ trafficking network is being run in Nampula by foreign witchdoctors, mainly from west Africa.
Local police in Nampula have said in the past they lack adequate means to investigate the allegations, prompting other nations, including former colonial ruler Portugal, to offer to help in the investigation.
Body parts, including sexual organs, are commonly used in may parts of Mozambique in traditional rituals believed to bring good fortune and wealth.
The 14 were arrested last week after human hearts, arms, hands and legs were found in a house in the district of Nacaroa, northeast of Nampula city, the provincial capital.
They claim the organs were extracted from their dead relatives.
Chiassano welcomed the arrests but said it was too soon to tell if the 14 were involved in organ trafficking.
“People were found in the possession of human organs, which they say came from exhumed bodies but we still do not know what their motive was,” he said.
“We still have to determine if there was human organ trafficking. Mutilation of a body is one crime and organ trafficking in another. We need to determine what was the crime that was committed.” – Sapa-AFP