8 October 2002

Alert

CPJ alarmed about case of murdered journalist; delivery of chickens seen as threat to reporters


Incident details

Carlos Cardoso, Fernando Lima, Kok Nam


(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a CPJ press release, followed by a CPJ letter to President Joaquim Alberto Chissano:


MOZAMBIQUE: CPJ ALARMED ABOUT CASE OF MURDERED JOURNALIST

Delivery of Chickens Seen as Threat to Reporters


New York, October 8, 2002-In a letter sent today to Mozambique president Joaquim Alberto Chissano, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed alarm over serious irregularities in the investigation into the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso and concern for the safety of
journalists reporting on the official inquiry.


The latest bizarre incident in the case involved the delivery of dozens of chickens-a gift allegedly from Mozambique's first lady-to the independent weekly MediaFax.


The delivery followed the publication's release of a September 27 column by Fernando Lima, citing allegations against the president's son Nymphine Chissano, which were made before the magistrate investigating the Cardoso murder. During the proceedings, a prison informant called Nymphine Chissano the "son of the rooster."


In the letter, CPJ executive director Ann Cooper said that in the current environment, in which Mozambican journalists have expressed concern for their safety, the delivery of chickens must be interpreted as a "threatening gesture." (See full letter below.)


Cardoso, Mozambique's best-known investigative journalist, was gunned down in the streets of the capital, Maputo, on November 22, 2000, after leaving the offices of Metical, the weekly fax-distributed newsletter that he published. While six suspects were arrested in connection with the murder, the investigation subsequently stalled.


A CPJ report based on a fact-finding mission to the country in July 2001 was presented to the Mozambican ambassador to the United States, Armando Panguene, on May 21, 2002. (For the report, see: http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2002/moz_may02/moz_may02.html).">http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2002/moz_may02/moz_may02.html">http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2002/moz_may02/moz_may02.html).To date, and
despite repeated requests, CPJ has not received any official response to the report.


CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information about press conditions in Mozambique, visit www.cpj.org">http://www.cpj.org">www.cpj.org



October 8, 2002


His Excellency Joaquim Alberto Chissano

President of the Republic of Mozambique

Avenida Julius Nyerere 2000

Caixa Postal 285

Maputo, Mozambique


VIA FAX: 011-258-492068


Your Excellency:


The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) continues to be alarmed by the serious irregularities in the investigation into the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso, and we are particularly concerned for the safety of journalists whose recent reporting on the possible involvement of your family has been met by apparent intimidation.


Cardoso, Mozambique's best-known investigative journalist, was gunned down in the streets of the capital, Maputo, on November 22, 2000, after leaving the offices of Metical, the weekly fax-distributed newsletter that he published. A CPJ delegation visited Maputo in July 2001 to learn more about the investigation.


While six suspects were arrested in connection with the murder, the investigation subsequently stalled. Police never adequately established a motive for the crime, and failed to consider the possibility that Cardoso's murder was related to journalistic investigations he was working on at the time of his death. A CPJ report on the murder and investigation was presented to the Mozambican ambassador to the United States, Armando Panguene, on May 21, 2002, and made public that same day. To date, and despite repeated requests, CPJ has not received any official response to the
report.


During CPJ's visit to Maputo in July 2001, many journalists told us they were afraid for their safety. Today, the situation is even more alarming. The latest bizarre incident occurred after the independent weekly MediaFax published allegations made in court against your son, Nymphine Chissano.


According to MediaFax, as well as the Maputo weekly Domingo, a man identified as "Opa," or "Uapa," testified on September 23 before the magistrate investigating the Cardoso murder. Opa claimed he met Momade Abdul Satar, the accused mastermind of the Cardoso murder, while in jail and alleged that Satar had told him that he had carried out Cardoso's murder at the behest of someone he described as "o filho do galo" (the son of the rooster). In a September 27 column signed by journalist Fernando Lima, MediaFax reported that Opa had told the magistrate that the "son of the rooster" referred to Nymphine Chissano.


The next night, at about 1 a.m., a truck arrived at the home of Kok Nam, the publisher of Savana, which is owned by the same media cooperative-MediaCoop-that publishes MediaFax. The driver of the truck said he had about 100 chickens to deliver to Kok Nam and Fernando Lima, who had
written the article in MediaFax. The driver claimed that the chickens were a gift from the first lady, Marcelina Chissano. Later that day, similar trucks carrying chickens attempted to make deliveries to the home of MediaFax editor Marcelo Mosse and to the offices of MediaCoop.


While the incidents were not themselves threatening, they seem to send a clear message of high-level displeasure, a message that could be dangerous given the current environment in Mozambique. In 2000, Nymphine Chissano filed a criminal defamation suit against Marcelo Mosse, who was then editor of Metical, having assumed the position after Cardoso's murder. Facing mounting legal pressure, Metical ceased publication earlier this year. Mosse subsequently became editor of MediaFax.


The recent incident also comes only weeks after one of the alleged gunmen in the Cardoso killing escaped from prison in Maputo. Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior, known as Anibalzhino, escaped from prison in early September. According to reports in the Mozambican press, Interior Minister Almerino Manhenje had been warned that Anibalzhino was planning to try to escape from prison but failed to take action. Meanwhile, former police investigator Antonio Frangoulis, who prosecuted Anibalzhino, claimed in a letter sent to the Minister of the Interior (that was published by MediaFax) to have received threatening phones calls from Anibalzhino after he escaped from prison.


As an organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues worldwide, we are dismayed by these latest developments in the Cardoso investigation, which make the prospect of achieving justice in the murder increasingly remote. At the same time, we are deeply concerned for the safety of journalists covering the official inquiry and in the current environment must interpret the attempt to deliver chickens to MediaFax as a threatening gesture.


At this time, we would once again urge you to respond on behalf of the Mozambican government to the specific recommendations included in CPJ's May 2002 report on the Cardoso investigation.


We thank you for your attention to this important matter and await your response.


Sincerely,


Ann Cooper

Executive Director


CC:

American Society of Newspaper Editors

Amnesty International

Article 19 (United Kingdom)

Artikel 19 (The Netherlands)

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Freedom Forum

Freedom House

Human Rights Watch

Index on Censorship

International Center for Journalists

International Federation of Journalists

International PEN

International Press Institute

Lorne W. Craner, United States Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The Newspaper Guild

The North American Broadcasters Association

Overseas Press Club

Reporters Sans Frontières

Sergio Vieira de Mello, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Society of Professional Journalists

World Association of Newspapers

World Press Freedom Committee

Recommended Action


Similar appeals can be sent to:


His Excellency Joaquim Alberto Chissano

President of the Republic of Mozambique

Avenida Julius Nyerere 2000

Caixa Postal 285

Maputo, Mozambique

Fax: +258 492 068


Please copy appeals to the source if possible.




Source

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
USA
info (@) cpj.org
Fax:+1 212 465 9568
Mozambique
 
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