12 May 2004


Authorities' complicity suspected as killer of journalist Carlos Cardoso escapes from prison

Incident details

Carlos Cardoso



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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has expressed shock over police reports of Anibal Antonio dos Santos' escape, on 10 May 2004, from Maputo's high security prison. Dos Santos, also known as "Anibalzinho", had been serving a 28-year sentence since January 2003 for the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso.

"This is the second time that Anibalzinho has escaped from Maputo's high security prison. There can no longer be any doubt that he has high-ranking accomplices. This is unacceptable. The Mozambique authorities, who have expressed their commitment to eliminating impunity, must do everything possible to capture him and track down those responsible for his escape," RSF said.

"This escape confirms the theory - previously advanced by RSF in a November 2003 report - that one or more of the individuals who ordered Cardoso's murder remain at large. This case is far from being resolved," the organisation added.

Police offered no details about Anibalzinho's escape. He had previously escaped in September 2002, before being recaptured in South Africa on the same day he was sentenced to 28 years in prison for Cardoso's murder.

Cardoso, editor of the daily "Metical", was killed on 22 November 2000 while riding along Avenue Martires de Machava in Maputo. He was in the car with his chauffeur when two men blocked their path and opened fire. Cardoso, who was shot several times in the head, died instantly. His chauffeur was seriously injured.

Before his death, Cardoso had been investigating the country's biggest financial scandal since independence, which involved the embezzlement of the equivalent of 14 million euros (approx. US$16 million) from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM). His reports implicated the powerful businessmen Momade Abdul Satar, his brother Ayob Abdul Satar and Vicente Ramaya.

On 31 January 2003, a special court established in Maputo to try Cardoso's killers delivered its verdict. Momade Abdul Satar was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Ayob Abdul Satar, Vicente Ramaya, Manuel Fernandes and Carlos Rashid Cassamo each received 23 and-a-half year terms. They were all found guilty of "homicide". Anibalzinho was sentenced to 28 years in prison and a 15-year privation of his civil rights.

On several occasions during the trial, two of the accused named Nyimpine Chissano, the head of state's son, as having ordered the murder of Cardoso.

In December 2002, State Attorney General Joaquim Madeira announced that a new investigation had been opened to determine if Nyimpine Chissano was involved in the case. In November 2003, during an RSF mission to the country, Madeira told one of the organisations's representatives that the investigation was "closer to the end than the beginning."


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