Press Freedom

Published on : 11/05/2004

11 May 2004 - Reporters Without Borders is shocked at the escape, announced by police on 10 May, of Anibal Antonio dos Santos - "Anibalzinho" from Maputo's top security prison. He was jailed for 28 years in January 2003 for the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso.

"It is the second time that Anibalzinho has escaped from Maputo's high security prison. There is no longer any doubt that he has highly-placed accomplices," the international press freedom organisation said.

"It is unacceptable and the Mozambique authorities, which have undertaken to fight impunity must do everything possible to recapture him and identify those responsible for his escape," it added.

"This escape, confirms the theory already advanced by Reporters Without Borders in a November 2003 report that one or more of those who ordered the murder of Carlos Cardoso are still at large. This case has still not been fully cleared up," it concluded.

Police gave no details about Anibalzinho's escape. He previously escaped in September 2002, before being recaptured in South Africa, the very day of his 28-year sentence for the Cardoso murder.

Cardoso, editor of the daily Metical, was murdered on 22 November 2000 as he was being driven along the Avenue Martires de Machava in Maputo. Two men blocked the road and opened fire. Cardoso, who was hit in the head by several bullets, died instantly. His driver was seriously injured.

Before his death, Cardoso was investigating the country's biggest financial scandal since independence: the embezzlement of a sum equal to 14 million euros from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM). In his articles he named three powerful businessmen; the Satar brothers and Vicente Ramaya.

A special court established in Maputo to try Cardoso's killers delivered its verdicts on on 31 January 2003: Businessman Momade Abdul Satar was jailed for 24 years; his brother, Ayob Abdul Satar, Vicente Ramaya, Manuel Fernandes and Carlos Rashid Cassamo, for 23 and-a-half years. These five were all found guilty of "homicide". Anibalzinho was sentenced to 28 years in jail and 15 years deprivation of civil rights.

On several occasions during the trial, two of those charged accused the son of the head of state, Nyimpine Chissano, of having ordered the murder of Cardoso.

At the end of December 2002, the Prosecutor-General of the Republic, Joaquim Madeira, announced that a new investigation had been opened to determine if Nyimpine Chissano had any involvement in the case. In November 2003, during a Reporters Without Borders on-the-spot investigation, the prosecutor told one of the organisation's representatives, "The investigations are nearer the end than the beginning."

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