Susana Chou, president of the Legislative Assembly and the majority shareholder in one of the companies involved in the Ao Man Long case, allegedly knew of payments made to the former secretary, the court heard yesterday.
According to the lawyer for Pedro Nolasco, one of the companies facing charges in connection with the former secretary for transport and public works, Susana Chou and other company shareholders knew of the payments being made to Ao Man Long.
The lawyer, Luis Almeida Pinto, told the court that shareholders of the CSR company knew of the payments, however these were not corruption, but demanded from the former secretary.
Towards the end of yesterday's hearing, his client, Nolasco da Silva, accepted responsibility for his actions and pleaded guilty, however he said he did not act on his own in regards to the payments.
The court heard how after CSR had been asked for payments, from the former secretary, it had informed all its shareholders as well as those shareholders in the neighbouring region of Hong Kong, and also the president of the Legislative Assembly, Susana Chou.
Nolasco da Silva said the decision to carry out the payments had been made together with the company's administration, and that it had been the “biggest mistake of his life,” the court heard.
According to the defence lawyer, the hardest part for Nolasco da Silva, was to “involuntarily” get his wife, Patricia Nolasco da Silva, involved in the case.
Patricia Nolasco da Silva is also facing charges in connection to Ao Man Long's corruption case.
In September last year, Susana Chou said in an exclusive interview with the Portuguese newspaper Hoje Macau, that she had in “no way” anything to do with Ao Man Long's activities and involvements.
The court also heard that the Chief Executive, Edmund Ho Hau Wah, knew of all the contracts given to CSR, and saw nothing wrong with the contracts being given to the company.
Yesterday the president of the Legislative Assembly refused to comment on the matter.
Nolasco da Silva's lawyer asked that the court be lenient when handing down the sentence to his client, since he did not commit any act of corruption, because he did not benefit from these activities, the court heard.
by Godfrey Marawanyika*
Zimbabwe's main human rights group accused the government yesterday of using violence to help President Robert Mugabe cling to power as a senior official called for a national unity government.
While the United Nations Security Council prepared to meet in New York to discuss the month-long election crisis in the southern African nation, Mugabe's regime warned it would crack down on violence and prevent "anarchy."
European Union foreign ministers responded by upping the pressure on Mugabe, calling for a global arms embargo on Zimbabwe after an international outcry last week prevented a Chinese shipment of weapons from reaching the country.
In an apparent offer of reconciliation, Boniface Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe's UN ambassador, told the BBC that any eventual winner of last month's presidential election should include opponents in a power-sharing deal.
"Whoever wins the presidency has to come up with a government of national unity," Chidyausiku said, echoing a call in the state-run Herald newspaper last week for a national unity government to be led by Mugabe.
"There is no way anybody can do without the other," he added.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and faces the biggest challenge of his political career, with international pressure to step down and a spiralling economic crisis on his hands.
But deputy information minister Bright Matonga ruled out any coalition with Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, saying he was "an agent" of Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial master.
Although the MDC wrested control of parliament from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party for the first time in 28 years when Zimbabwe voted on March 29, there has still been no word on the outcome of a presidential poll held the same day.
Based on the party's own calculations, MDC leader Tsvangirai, 56, has declared himself the outright winner without the need for a run-off against the increasingly isolated 84-year-old Mugabe.
However, government supporters say that no candidate won more than 50 percent and that a second round is inevitable.
An independent election monitoring group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, estimates Tsvangirai won 49.4 percent and Mugabe 41.8 percent.
Electoral commission chairman George Chiweshe said he expected a meeting with the candidates in which the election results will be discussed to take place this week but could not say when the final results will be released.
The marathon wait has been accompanied by a steady rise in attacks, which the country's leading human rights organisation argued in a new report yesterday were designed to intimidate voters.
Kucaca Phulu, chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights), said his organisation had compiled numerous incidents of violence and destruction of property in the election aftermath.
"What we are witnessing constitutes a form of rigging," he said.
Phulu said hundreds of people had been forced to flee their homes. "If there is a run-off what is of grave concern to us is that all these displaced people will not be able to go back to their home areas to vote," he said.
The MDC says that 15 of its supporters have been killed by pro-government militias. The authorities have denied this, blaming the MDC for the violence.
Mugabe's chief spokesman George Charamba released a statement yesterday in which he accused the opposition of deliberately stirring up tensions.
Charamba said security forces would use any force deemed necessary to "discourage acts that could lead to anarchy."
Also yesterday, the authorities released nearly 200 opposition supporters who had been rounded up by armed riot police in a raid on the headquarters of the MDC on Friday to find suspects in a series of arson attacks.
In Geneva, senior UN experts said they were increasingly concerned about "organised and coordinated" attacks on supporters of the opposition or people suspected of having voted for the Movement for Democratic Change.
Human Rights Watch echoed those concerns, saying it was vital for the UN Security Council recognise the violence "is a threat to regional peace and security" and consider targeted sanctions against those responsible.
"Government-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe continues to surge with no end in sight, leaving ordinary Zimbabweans without protection," said HRW's Africa director Georgette Gagnon.