Mozambique pays homage to slain top lawyer

7th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Hundreds of rights activists and students staged a march in Maputo on Saturday in memory of a government critic and prominent French-Mozambican lawyer who was shot dead earlier this week.

Gilles Cistac, 54, a naturalised Mozambican citizen of French origin, was one of the country's few experts in constitutional law and was highly respected.

Nearly 1,000 people marched peacefully from the spot outside a restaurant where Cistac was shot by four men in a passing car. They ended the march at the Eduardo Mondlane University where he was a lecturer.

Protesters carried placards written in French "Je Suis Cistac", inspired by the "Je Suis Charlie" slogan that has become a global rallying cry for expressing solidarity for freedom of expression.

Other placards in Portuguese read "Justice" and "The People Want Security".

Cistac's law students brandished copies of the constitution and recited clauses on freedom of speech.

"They silenced one voice, but they made millions of Mozambican voices to rise. Shots don't kill freedom," said Alice Mabote, president of the Human Rights League.

A critic of Mozambique's Frelimo government, Cistac had received threats on Facebook from a user with the pseudonym "Calado Calachnicov", Portuguese for "silent Kalashnikov", just weeks before he was gunned down on a busy Maputo street.

He had been heavily criticised in recent weeks by the government press for defending a proposal by opposition lawmakers to grant the country's 11 provinces greater autonomy. He had said that the proposal was possible under the current constitution.

The opposition party Renamo and some independent media suggested Frelimo was behind the attack, but the ruling party rejected the accusations.

Opposition party officials, university lecturers and diplomats also took part in the march.

© 2015 AFP

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