17 November 2002

MOZAMBIQUE: Cardoso murder trial to begin

The trial of six people accused of murdering journalist Carlos Cardoso on 22 November 2000 begins in Maputo on Monday 18 November, on the premises of the city's top security prison (known as the B.O.). Trial Judge Augusto Paulino rejected an objection from lawyers defending the six men. Meanwhile, Paulino has been stalked by unknown men, who were involved in a shootout with the police in front of Paulino’s home.

One of the five accused, known as "Anibalzinho", will be tried in absentia because he was allowed to escape from jail. At least four people have been murdered because they were investigating the bank scandals, and in mid-2002 people linked to all four murders escaped from prison. In a statement to parliament, Interior Minister Almerino Manhenje justified the disappearances from the Maputo top security prison by arrogantly asking: "In what part of the world do prisoners not escape from jails?"

As the trial date approaches, the accused are now claiming that they were only acting as intermediaries for highly placed people. The President’s son, Nyimpine Chissano, and Octavio Muthemba, the former Minister of Industry and former head of Banco Austral, are both to be questioned by the judge in the murder case, Augusto Paulino. The chief investigator of the Cardoso murder, Antonio Frangoulis, was taken off the case when the began to investigate these links.

Also named is the former attorney general, Dr Namburete. He is also accused, along with two prosecutors, of blocking the trials of people accused in the bank scandals. Namburete and the other prosecutors are magistrates and their prosecution must be authorised by the Supreme Court, which is refusing to do so. (Joe Hanlon)

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