Mozambique News Agency

Special Issue - Carlos Cardoso murder trial


Third accused names president's son

Maputo, 25 Nov (AIM) - The man who fired the shots two years ago that killed Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on Monday claimed that Nyimpine Chissano, the eldest son of President Joaquim Chissano, paid for the assassination.

Carlos Rashid Cassamo made a full confession to the Maputo City Court, and became the third of the six men on trial for the murder to blame Nyimpine Chissano.

Rashid's account of the murder was essentially the same as that given last Tuesday by Manuel Fernandes ("Escurinho"). He said that, on 22 November 2000, he and Fernandes were in the stolen red Citi-Golf, driven by Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), that pursued Cardoso as he left the office of "Metical", the paper he owned and edited.

Anibalzinho is accused of recruiting the death squad. He is currently a fugitive, since he escaped from the Maputo top security prison on 1 September, and is being tried in absentia.

A few hundred metres from the office, in front of Maputo's main athletics track, Anibalzinho blocked the "Metical" Toyota, forcing it to a halt. He let off one shot with a Makarov pistol, and when Rashid hesitated, shouted "Come on - get on with the work".

Rashid opened fire on Cardoso with an AK-47 assault rifle. "I was afraid that if I didn't fire, Anibalzinho would kill me", he said. He claimed the pistol was now pointed at his neck.

Rashid says he fired five shots at the defenceless Cardoso. This account is in accordance with the findings of the South African ballistics expert who examined the "Metical" vehicle, and disagreed with the Mozambican autopsy report which said Cardoso took eight bullets. The South African expert said the other projectiles that hit Cardoso were probably shrapnel from the car itself.

Like Fernandes, Rashid said Anibalzinho had assured them they were perfectly safe because "the job" had been ordered by the President's son.

But unlike Fernandes, he claimed that he had seen Anibalzinho and Nyimpine Chissano together on three occasions - once before the murder and twice afterwards.

One of these occasions followed persistent demands by Rashid for the money owed him. Anibalzinho had promised him 750 million meticais (31,700 US dollars at current exchange rates), but in the immediate wake of the murder only paid him 30 million.

So in December, Anibalzinho went to meet Chissano Jr near the Xenon cinema in central Maputo. He told Rashid to stay in the car - he did not want Nyimpine to see Rashid, because he had promised that he would hire a South African assassin, not a Mozambican, to murder Cardoso.

Rashid said he saw Nyimpine emerge from a white Mercedes, and give a plastic bag to Anibalzinho. This bag contained 100 million meticais, and Anibalzinho gave Rashid 20 million.

Rashid said that, by the time he was arrested in March 2001, he had received four payments from Anibalzinho, totalling 77 million meticais - nowhere near the sum he had been promised.

Shortly after his arrest, Rashid received a letter from Anibalzinho's mother, Teresinha Mendonca. He said she urged him "don't mention Nyimpine's name in this, you'll get your money". The letter was smuggled into the prison via a policeman whom Anibalzinho knew, he added.

Rashid claimed that members of the Presidential Guard, one of the three police units guarding the top security jail, were close to Anibalzinho, and ensured that mobile phones were brought to the prisoners.

He was sure that Mendonca knew all about the murder. He recalled that, in the days after Anibalzinho's arrest, but prior to his own, she had phoned him "more than six times, urging me to flee".

He protested he had no money, since he had spent everything that Anibalzinho had given him. Mendonca then gave Rashid's wife 500,000 meticais (about 20 dollars), with the advice "tell your husband to disappear".

Mendonca "knew all about Anibalzinho's activities, she profited from his crimes, she served as his accountant", Rashid said. She had also hidden the AK-47 and the pistol: Rashid claimed they were buried in the garden of Anibalzinho's aunt, in the Maputo suburb of Jardim.

Throughout his imprisonment, Rashid denied all knowledge of the murder. He said he changed his tune because he "felt abandoned" after Anibalzinho's escape, which he believed had been orchestrated by Nyimpine Chissano.

"I've been abandoned by both my bosses (Anibalzinho and Nyimpine)", he said. He belatedly realised that Anibalzinho's promise that, because of his family links, Nyimpine would have him released, was false.

"Now it's my turn to betray Anibalzinho", he declared.

Asked why Chissano Jr should want Cardoso dead, Rashid said he had asked that question to Anibalzinho, only to be told "That's the boss's business".

Rashid alleged that when Anibalzinho recruited him, he said it was for two murders of people whom Nyimpine wanted out of the way. The second was Pedro Bule, who was then the head of the Customs Restructuring Unit in the Finance Ministry. Initially, Anibalzinho and Rashid stalked Bule, but when Bule's routines were disrupted by the death of his son, they switched their attentions to Cardoso.

Bule is still alive, but in December 2000 he was sacked, and lost his power over the customs service - a move that has never been fully explained.

Asked whether he knew the two brothers, Ayob and Momade Assife Abdul Satar, who are accused of ordering Cardoso's murder, Rashid said he had never had any relationship with either of them.

"I'm a moslem, but I don't like monhes", he declared. "I like people of all races, except monhes".

"Monhe" is an insulting term for people of Asian origin. The judge, Augusto Paulino, intervened to chastise Rashid for his racism. "This isn't a country only of black people", he said.

Satar promises three more cheques

Maputo, 25 Nov (AIM) - Maputo money-lender Momade Assife Abdul Satar (better known as "Nini"), one of those charged with ordering the murder of Mozambique's best-known journalist Carlos Cardoso, said on Monday that, although he had given the city court only four cheques in evidence, he had actually received seven cheques from Nyimpine Chissano, son of President Joaquim Chissano, to cover payment for the assassination.

He said the cheques amounted to a total of 1.29 billion meticais (about 47,500 US dollars at current exchange rates). Of this 1.2 billion was to repay money he had lent to Chissano Jr, while the other 90 million was what he called "my commission".

Since the money was supposed to be repaid over a period of less than two months (November and December 2000), Satar was charging Nyimpine Chissano an annual interest rate of over 45 per cent.

None of the cheques was ever deposited in a bank. Instead, Chissano Jr would repay Satar in cash, and he would write the sums paid on the backs of the cheques.

Satar said no money at all had been paid to redeem the four cheques he had submitted last week. The other three had all been partially redeemed. Satar said he did not know exactly how much Chissano had repaid: he told the court he would have to consult the backs of the cheques to find out, and promised that the missing three cheques would be submitted as evidence.

Satar stuck to his line of last Thursday, that he had no idea the loan he made to Nyimpine Chissano was to pay for a murder. He insisted that when clients request money from him, he asks them no questions as to how it will be used.

(Satar said last week that, at Chissano's request, the 1.2 billion meticais was paid, in four installments, to Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the man whom the prosecution alleges organised the hit squad that killed Cardoso.)

Satar also insisted that there had been a conspiracy involving Umberto Sartori, owner of the Kaya-Kwanga hotel, a man named Jawed, the then head of the Maputo Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Antonio Frangoulis, and possibly several other senior police officers to extort a million dollars from him in early 2001. He claimed that his refusal to pay this sum was the real reason why he was arrested in March 2001.

This story has been told in a rambling and incoherent fashion: sometimes Satar stresses the alleged extortion, and sometimes huge debts that the Polana Casino supposedly owed him as reasons for his arrest.

He had claimed that the records for Sartori's mobile phone showed that he had made "over 1,000 calls" to the other people involved in the alleged plot. But when the judge, Augusto Paulino, asked him how he had gained access to confidential phone records, Satar refused to reply.

The court has been checking the records of the mobile phone company M-Cel, establishing that the accused made phone calls to each other and to several other people key to the case.

When the Satar brothers realised the potential importance of mobile phone records, they too began claiming (in a series of letters published in some of the press) that they had evidence of incriminating phone calls (including some supposedly made by judge Paulino himself).

But whereas a court can demand the M-Cel records for any given mobile phone, the company should never surrender the records of any of its clients to other individuals. It looks very much as if someone at M-Cel was bribed to provide Satar with falsified phone records for Sartori and the others supposedly involved in the extortion plot.

Satar's relatives have apologised to all the people he named in his various letters. But Satar said this initiative had nothing to do with him, and he was not consulted. He said the only person he was prepared to apologise to was Paulino himself.

At the end of Satar's interrogation, the representative of the public prosecutor's office, Dr. Mourao, announced his intention to open another case against Satar, this time for illegal dealings in foreign currency, using his admissions of Monday and last week as evidence.

Paulino also ordered the banks Credicoop and BIM to provide details of Satar's accounts, and the Polana Casino to confirm whether it did indeed run up debts to Satar.

Tributes to slain journalist

Maputo, 23 Nov (AIM) - Hundreds of people gathered on Friday night at the spot where Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, was murdered, to mark the second anniversary of the assassination.

Once again, the old tree stump beside the spot where Cardoso's life ended in a hail of bullets was piled high with flowers, and surrounded with candles.

On the nearby wall, the defiant words "Cardoso Vive !" (Cardoso Lives !) are painted in large letters. Other slogans pledged that Mozambican journalists will not allow their voices to be silenced.

A message from the independent citizens' group, Juntos Pela Cidade (JPC - Together for the City), for which Cardoso had been an elected representative in the Maputo Municipal Assembly, read out by Maria dos Anjos Rosario, declared "noble causes do not die when murderous bullets steal the live of those who embrace them. Other people, lovers of truth and freedom, continue the journey".

"The people, the country and the truth filled the heart and soul of Carlos Cardoso", said Rosario. "he dedicated his time to seeking the reasons for hundreds of inexplicable facts that hold us all hostages".

But Cardoso was more than a journalist, she stressed. "He was a representative of Maputo municipality. He was a citizen who taught us to fight from freedom and for truth. With his struggle for an independent, critical, responsible and investigative journalism, he symbolised press freedom and hope for the future of our country".

Cardoso's violent death had "unleashed a wave of solidarity, protest and determination", said Rosario. "Those who want to hold back this wave are trying to stop the wind with their hands".

A short message was also read from Cardoso's driver, Carlos Manjate, who was severely injured in the attack. He pledged that Cardoso "shall always live within us".

Later in the night, the publishing company Promedia launched a book of Cardoso's paintings.

In 1990-91, Cardoso briefly dropped out of journalism and devoted his energies to painting. His methods were extremely unorthodox, involving melting wax crayons in an oven, and creating images out of the hot wax before it solidified.

Cardoso exhibited his art in 1991, and sold (or gave away) most of the paintings. But shortly before the exhibition the photographer Jose Cabral had taken slides of all of Cardoso's work. These slides formed the basis of the book "Os Habitantes do Forno" ("The Residents of the Oven"), launched on Friday.

Also launched was a CD-ROM containing all 1,043 editions of the daily newsheet "Metical", which Cardoso launched in June 1997. This was the paper that contained some of Cardoso's most important work, notably on the huge financial scandals that ruined the two privatised banks (BCM and Austral), and which were certainly linked with his assassination.

"Metical" continued for over a year after Cardoso's death, until 26 December 2001, as Cardoso's colleagues attempted to continue his tradition. But "Metical" was eventually forced to cease publication, largely because of a libel suit against the paper brought by Nyimpine Chissano, businessman son of President Joaquim Chissano.

Lawyer dismayed by Anibalzinho's mother

Maputo, 23 Nov (AIM) - Simeao Cuamba, lawyer for the fugitive Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the man accused of organising the hit squad that murdered journalist Carlos Cardoso two years ago, has expressed dismay at statements by Anibalzinho's mother, Teresinha Mendonca, accepting that her son is guilty.

Cuamba has been organising his defence of Anibalzinho, who is being tried in absentia, after he escaped from the Maputo top security prison on 1 September, on the basis of his initial statements to the police in which he denied all knowledge of the crime.

But on Thursday Mendonca said that Anibalzinho did take part in the murder, acting on instructions from three of the other accused - former bank manager Vicente Ramaya, money-lender Momade Assife Abdul Satar, and his brother Ayob Abdul Satar.

She also claimed it was this trio which arranged Anibalzinho's escape from the top security prison on 1 September. They wanted him out of the country so that he could not incriminate them during the trial.

Interviewed in Saturday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias", Cuamba said he was "surprised and disappointed" at Mendonca's behaviour.

Cuamba has already announced his intention to stop defending a second of the accused, Manuel Fernandes ("Escurinho"), because he lied to his lawyer. He wanted to abandon Fernandes on Tuesday, when he confessed to the court of his part in the murder, contradicting everything he had told his lawyer. The judge, however, refused to allow Cuamba to drop Fernandes until an alternative defence lawyer can be found.

Now it looks as if Cuamba may be forced to take the same position towards Anibalzinho. "After Escurinho confessed his role in the crime, deceiving me completely, because he never revealed this outside the court, now I'm facing this situation which in no way helps the defence", he lamented.

Earlier in the week, Cuamba had tried to rein in Mendonca, who has been talking to the media, as if she did not have a care in the world, and completely ignoring the fact that her son has a lawyer.

Mendonca had said she would ask Cuamba to "negotiate" the return of her son with the government. She had claimed that Anibalzinho is in London, and was willing to return to Maputo, and reveal all that he knew, if the government would guarantee his safety.

She had not mentioned this to Cuamba, and he rejected the idea outright. "I am not going to negotiate his return with anyone", the lawyer said. "In no way whatsoever am I going to guarantee Anibalzinho's return, with the government or with any other body".

Meanwhile Mendonca has changed her line. In an earlier interview with "Noticias", she had accused Ramaya and both the Abdul Satar brothers of ordering the murder. But she has now told the paper that her mention of Ramaya was "a mistake".

Now she claims that the Satar brothers are exclusively responsible for the murder, and that she has proof of this.

As for Anibalzinho being in London, the British High Commission in Maputo says it has no knowledge of any entry visa issued for Anibalzinho, either in his own name or in the names of his two aliases, Carlos Pinto da Cruz and Benjamim Ferreira da Costa.

Where is Anibalzinho?

Maputo, 22 Nov (AIM) - Teresinha Mendonca, the mother of alleged assassin Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho") has claimed that her fugitive son is in London.

Anibalzinho is on trial in absentia, along with five others, accused of the murder, exactly two years ago, of Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso.

Interviewed in Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Mendonca claimed that her son is in London "with some relatives", and that she has been in contact with him.

She said that Anibalzinho is willing to return to Mozambique and reveal "the whole truth" about the assassination, provided he is given guarantees of his personal security.

In his statements to the police, Anibalzinho denied everything. He denied participating in the crime, he denied knowing any of the other accused, he said he had been in bed with a fever on the day of the murder, and he denied any previous criminal record (although he has certainly been arrested before at least once, in South Africa).

But his mother told "Noticias" that Anibalzinho did take part in the murder, acting on instructions from three of the other accused - former bank manager Vicente Ramaya, money-lender Momade Assife Abdul Satar, and his brother Ayob Abdul Satar.

She also claimed it was this trio which arranged Anibalzinho's escape from the top security prison on 1 September. They wanted him out of the country so that he could not incriminate them during the trial.

Mendonca said she would ask the lawyer she has hired, Simeao Cuamba, "to set the machinery in motion for negotiations with the government so that Anibalzinho may return".

But there is no question of negotiations. The only thing the Mozambican government should do is contact the British authorities at once, and try to check the truth of Mendonca's story.

If Anibalzinho is in Britain, he can only have entered the country on a false passport: and this is reason enough for the British police to have him deported.

Mendonca admitted the key prosecution claims: namely that Anibalzinho hired the other two members of the death squad, Manuel Fernandes and Carlitos Rashid Cassamo, and that the people who ordered the killing were Ramaya and the Satar brothers.

She even offered to take the witness stand. "I know everything and I can prove this in court", she said, "because my son told me everything. What Nini (Momade Satar) is trying to do is put all the blame on Anibalzinho".

This admission is somewhat different from an interview Mendonca gave on Thursday to Mozambican Television (TVM), in which her main concern seemed to be to remove suspicion from Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano.

The claim has been repeatedly made in court, notably by Momade Satar, that Chissano Jr paid for the murder. But Mendonca said that her son does not know Chissano, and she claimed she had evidence that would clear Nyimpine Chissano's name.

She also made racial slurs against the Satar brothers, calling them "monhes", a derogatory term for people of Asian descent. "My son doesn't have monhe friends", she said. "He only has black friends".

Street named after Carlos Cardoso

Maputo, 22 Nov (AIM) - A previously unnamed street in the Maputo suburb of Polana-Canico on Friday received the name of Carlos Cardoso, the country's top investigative journalist, who was murdered exactly two years ago.

Cardoso's two children, his 13 year old son Ibo and seven year old daughter Milena, unveiled the name plaques at each end of the street.

Overcome with emotion, and holding back the tears, Cardoso's widow, Nina Berg, spoke of her husband's love for Maputo, and described the naming of the street as "a lovely gesture".

This street was not chosen by accident. It is one of the few Maputo streets that is neither a dirt track nor a tarred road. Instead it has been build out of small blocks of cement - a method that Cardoso, when he was a member of the elected Maputo Municipal Assembly, always defended as a cheap and efficient alternative to asphalt.

The streets built with this method have lasted: unlike the tarred roads, they are not full of potholes, and are properly drained. Maintenance of these roads is cheap, and building them is labour intensive.

For these reasons Cardoso favoured them, and the building companies, which regularly defraud the Mozambican state with their shoddy work, abhor them.

The Friday inauguration was the work, not of the City Council, but of civil society organisations. The name plaques were also a civil society initiative, and no municipal funds were used.

At midday, as part of the commemorations of the second anniversary of Cardoso's death, an exhibition of painting and sculpture was opened at the headquarters of the Mozambican Journalists' Union (SNJ).

At the same time the Maputo representation of the European Union announced a "Carlos Cardoso Prize", to be awarded to the best article or series of articles published by journalists working in Mozambique in the last two years, that promote "democracy and its values".

The prize money is 500 euros (500 dollars), and entries must be submitted by 21 January 2003. The jury consists of four people who were friends and colleagues of Cardoso: jurist Abdul Carimo, photographer Ricardo Rangel, writer Mia Couto and journalist Fernando Lima.

At the ceremony, Carimo read a letter from Ibo and Milena, in which the two children declared "For us it is very important to know who killed our father, and for them to be sentenced, but this can never replace him - he will never return to live with us".

"He wanted for us, and for all the children of Mozambique a life and a future of justice, free of poverty and crime, where everybody could live well and without fear", the letter said.

Cardoso, his children recalled, "used to write, talk, discuss, sing, play, dance and paint. His spirit used all forms to say what it wanted. But journalism was his main art. Journalism wasn't work for him - it was his life".

Ibo and Milena urged Mozambican journalists "to do everything to continue the unfinished work of our father - and not to rest until we know the entire truth about his death. That is the most important way of paying homage to the memory of Carlos Cardoso".

The cheques of Nyimpine Chissano

Maputo, 21 Nov (AIM) - Maputo judge Augusto Paulino, hearing the trial of six men accused of murdering Mozambique's top investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso, on Thursday admitted as evidence four cheques signed by Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano.

The cheques were introduced by one of the accused, Maputo money-lender Momade Assife Abdul Satar (better known as "Nini"), who claims they show that it was Chissano Jr who paid for the murder.

Satar says that, at Nyimpine Chissano's request, he paid Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho") 550 million meticais, and 250,000 South African rands (which, at today's exchange rates, amounts to almost 50,000 US dollars).

Anibalzinho, who escaped from prison on 1 September, is accused of organising the death squad that carried out the assassination.

Satar claimed that Chissano Jr covered the payments to Anibalzinho with a series of postdated cheques, several of which Satar still possessed.

The four cheques are each for 165 million meticais, and are dated 23 November (the day after Cardoso was murdered), 30 November, 22 December and 30 December 2000. They are all drawn on an account held by Nyimpine Chissano's company Expresso Tours at the cooperative bank Credicoop. In all the cheques the space for the payee has been left blank.

The cheques bear the stamp of Expresso Tours and a signature which Nini claims is that of Chissano Jr. Judge Paulino said he could not read the signature, but one of the defence lawyers, Domingos Arouca, said that at least the surname was "clear as water".

It was not clear from the Thursday hearing whether any of these cheques had been cashed. Satar claimed that he had cashed some of Nyimpine Chissano's cheques but not others.

He said that, when these transactions took place, he had "normal confidence" in both Nyimpine and Anibalzinho. Asked if he had any receipt or other document recording the transaction with Anibalzinho, Satar said "it was all done on a basis of trust".

He claimed he had no idea of the true purpose for the payments until Anibalzinho told him in prison. He said he had never asked Nyimpine Chissano what the money was for.

"I didn't suspect anything", he said. "I thought it might be to do with Anibalzinho's car business". (Satar claimed that he knew Anibalzinho as someone who sold imported vehicles.)

Asked whether he habitually loaned people huge sums of money with no questions asked, Satar said he never asked his clients what they would use the money for.

Satar has now admitted that his "business" is making short term loans, and charging "commissions". He has no authorisation for this, and pays no taxes. He is, in short, an unregistered, illegal money-lender.

He tried to explain the origin of his wealth by claiming that his father broke up a family business in 1994, and divided it among his children. From this deal Satar emerged with two billion meticais (about 340,000 US dollars at the exchange rate of the time), plus a house in a plush part of Maputo that he later sold.

But Satar has produced no evidence of this arrangement, and even if he did, that would beg the question of how his father acquired his fortune.

Further questioning of the authenticity or otherwise of Nyimpine Chissano's cheques is expected when the trial resumes on Monday.

A strange tale of the Polana Cassino

Maputo, 21 Nov (AIM) - Much of the interrogation on the fourth day of the Carlos Cardoso murder trial centred on loans allegedly made to the Polana Casino in central Maputo.

Maputo money-lender Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini"), who is one of those accused of ordering the murder of Mozambique's best-known journalist, Carlos Cardoso, claims that the real reason he was jailed was so that he could not cash cheques issued by the casino.

Satar says the Casino manager, Gerry Rouper (who has subsequently left the country), asked him for short term loans amounting to 10 billion meticais (about 420,000 US dollars).

Since Satar did not have this money immediately available, he arranged for a South African friend, named Bachir Abdullah to make the loan. Satar would collect the repayment from the casino and take a "commission" for himself.

But Satar was unable to explain who this Abdullah was. He could not name any companies owned by Abdullah, and merely said he owned "two or three shops" in South Africa.

Satar said that when he visited South Africa, he often stayed at Abdullah's house in the town of Benoni. What was the address ?, the court asked.

Satar said he didn't know. Adbullah "used to pick me up at the airport. I never bothered about the name of the street".

"Were you walking round with your eyes shut ?", asked the judge, Augusto Paulino.

As for the mechanisms of the loans, Satar said the money was paid in South Africa. Abdullah shifted the money in rands into an account held by the Polana Casino in South Africa, and Satar, a fortnight or a month later, would collect the repayment from the casino in meticais.

"I was an intermediary in lending the money. I'm not a banker", said Satar.

"This is money laundering !", exclaimed Paulino.

When asked how he planned to ensure that the money from the casino would eventually reach Abdullah, Satar claimed it would remain in Mozambique, because Abdullah intended to make investments of "four or five million rands" in northern Mozambique.

He was unable to explain the nature of this investment, or why Abdullah was not using official channels. (All foreign investment should be approved by the government's Investment Promotion Centre.)

To make matters more complicated, the Polana Casino issued cheques in the name not of Nini Satar, but of his brother and co- accused, Ayob. Nini claimed this was because he was travelling to the north of the country (a visit that in fact never happened), and asked his brother to collect his money for him.

Satar said the casino ran into problems in meeting the repayment schedule. Only the first three billion meticais were repaid. The casino rescheduled the remaining seven billion meticais of debt - even so, when Satar tried to cash one of the cheques it bounced.

He said he called Abdullah to come to Maputo to discuss the problem, and Rouper said they were "waiting for money from South Africa". While Bachir was still in Maputo, waiting to be paid, the two Satar brothers were arrested. The casino then refused to pay Bachir, because the people they had been dealing with were the Satars.

Nini Satar alleged a conspiracy involving Rouper and Humberto Sartori, the Italian owner of the Kaya-Kwanga hotel, to extort money from him. He said they had first warned him that he would be killed, unless he paid them a million dollars. Later the threat was watered down - it became "pay us a million dollars, or we'll have you thrown in jail".

Earlier versions of this conspiracy theory, floated by Satar, have involved the former head of the Maputo Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Antonio Frangoulis, several other high ranking police officers, and even judge Paulino himself.

But on Thursday, Satar tried to retract his accusations against police officers and magistrates, restricting the conspiracy to Sartori, Rouper, a man named Jawed, and a couple of unnamed "Pakistanis".

Paulino interrupted Satar to point out that "the accused has asked his sister to meet with all these people and apologise to them, and request them to go to the judge and say this whole episode is over". This apology was on tape, and would be played later in the trial.

The judge suggested that the habit of telling one lie today, and another lie tomorrow should come to an end.

Definitive ruling on trial broadcasts

Maputo, 21 Nov (AIM) - Augusto Paulino, the judge presiding in the Carlos Cardoso murder trial, on Thursday refused to re-impose a ban on live broadcasts of the trial proceedings, and insisted that he would leave such matters entirely up to the media.

On Monday, the first day of the trial, Paulino did ban live broadcasts. But on Wednesday he lifted the ban, saying that he could not resist the public pressure for live broadcasts.

On Thursday morning the public prosecutor's office asked him to reconsider. The prosecutor, Dr. Mourao, said that live broadcasts meant that witnesses (who are excluded from the court room before they give their evidence) would have full access to the proceedings.

He urged the judge to ban live broadcasts, and to restrict what parts of the trial radio and television could show, even in later broadcasts.

Paulino replied that to impose this sort of reporting ban was like "trying to stop the wind with your hands". When a public trial of this nature was held, "whether we like it or not, the media are going to continue to broadcast it".

Furthermore, constant arguments about live broadcasts were diverting the court from its main duty of examining the evidence.

As for influencing witnesses, he pointed out that witnesses are on oath, and they have a duty to tell the truth. Regardless of what they might have seen on television, "they are not authorised to tell lies".

Paulino decreed that as from now, there will be no further discussion of live broadcasts. His Wednesday ruling would stand, with one amendment: when witnesses (rather than the accused) are called, the television cameras would be asked, for security reasons, not to show their faces.

"We will leave it up to the media to assess the situation", said Paulino. He would impose no ban.

Nini Satar accuses Nyimpine Chissano

Maputo, 20 Nov (AIM) - One of the key suspects in the murder of Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on Wednesday admitted paying for the assassination, but claimed that the money came from Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano.

On the third day of the murder trial, Momade Assife Abdul Satar (better known as "Nini") told the court that he had paid about 500 million meticais, and 250,000 South African rands (a total of about 46,000 US dollars at today's exchange rates) to Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the fugitive who is accused of heading the hit squad that murdered Cardoso on 22 November 2000.

He claimed he had made these payments at the request of Nyimpine Chissano, who had come to him in early November 2000 and asked for a loan of 1.2 billion meticais.

An agreement was reached, according to Satar, whereby this money was paid to Anibalzinho, and Chissano Jr repaid Satar with pre-dated cheques.

Asked why Chissano Jr needed this money in such a hurry, Satar replied "I didn't ask him".

He claimed it was only when he was arrested that he found out, from Anibalzinho, that the money was the payment for a contract killing.

He had kept the story to himself for so many months, because Anibalzinho told him in prison "Don't worry - we'll soon get out". He said Anibalzinho assured him "it was the President's son who ordered the murder, so we'll be released".

He finally realised this was untrue when Anibalzinho escaped from the top security prison in September. "I was very worried at the escape, and felt abandoned", Satar said - and so he then decided to tell the authorities what he knew.

But the minutes of his interrogation after Anibalzinho's escape mention not only Nyimpine Chissano, but also his mother, the first lady, Marcelina Chissano. He promised at that interrogation to produce evidence at the trial.

The judge, Augusto Paulino, asked him to do so. "You said you would provide proof. Here's your opportunity", he said.

The evidence Satar offered were the pre-dated cheques signed by Nyimpine Chissano. But these were not yet in the case file: one of Satar's relatives brought them to the court later in the day. He could produce no evidence at all against Marcelina Chissano.

During one of his police interrogations, Satar had also mentioned former industry minister Octavio Muthemba, former attorney-general Antonio Namburete, and two other senior attorneys as among those who ordered Cardoso's death.

But now he retracted this statement. He had mentioned their names, as people "rumoured" to have been involved, during "a talk" with riot police commander Zacarias Cossa.

An incredulous judge Paulino interrupted. "Commander Cossa had a law officer next to him typing down all your answers, and you think that was just a talk ?", he asked

Satar repeatedly claimed he was "a businessman on my own account", as well as an unpaid supervisor at Unicambios, the chain of foreign exchange bureaux owned by his brother and co- accused, Ayob.

But when the court asked what companies he ran, it became clear that Nini Satar's "business" is lending money for short periods at high interest rates. He is, in short, a usurer. He admitted he had no licence, or any form of authorisation, for this business.

He said his only business with Nyimpine Chissano was lending him large sums of money. He said that when Nyimpine "wanted to change derisory amounts, such as five or ten thousand dollars, into meticais, he used Unicambios, and that was nothing to do with me".

The casual description of 10,000 dollars as a "derisory" sum caused gasps of astonishment in the courtroom.

Asked whether he had cashed any of Chissano Jr's cheques, Satar said "some cheques were cashed, but others were not because Nyimpine said he was in financial difficulty".

The court also wanted to know whether Satar had lent large sums of money to the Polana Casino, again in exchange for pre- dated cheques. He claimed that the ten billion meticais (about 420,000 US dollars) involved was lent by a South African associate named Bachir Abdullah, and his job was just to collect the repayment from the Casino in exchange for a commission.

"I can see there's a lot of trafficking in foreign exchange going on", remarked the judge.

Repeatedly the court asked Satar to explain the origin of his wealth. Where did he acquire the money to make such large loans ?

He claimed he had capital of his own, and had also raised money by selling his share of Unicambios to his brother in 1996 (when he was just 22 years old).

"Does not this money come from the holes in the banks ?", asked the judge. (He was referring to the 1996 fraud, in which the equivalent of 14 million dollars was stolen from the country's largest bank, the BCM. Satar is one of the people accused of defrauding the BCM, and Carlos Cardoso had written repeatedly about the case.)

Satar's evasive answers about his wealth meant that Tuesday's hearing lasted much longer than expected, and it proved impossible to complete the interrogation. Satar will continue giving his evidence on Thursday.

Anibalzinho's statement read out

Maputo, 20 Nov (AIM) - Despite all his denials, there is strong evidence linking Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho") with the red Citi-Golf used in the murder of Mozambique's best-known journalist Carlos Cardoso, on 22 November 2000.

Anibalzinho escaped from prison on 1 September and so was not available to give evidence on Wednesday, the third day of the Cardoso murder trial.

As legally required, the judge, Augusto Paulino, asked if Anibalzinho had shown up at the courtroom. When the answer was no, he began trying Anibalzinho in absentia, with the reading into the record of large passages from the earlier investigations.

During the interrogations, Anibalzinho denied that he was the same person as Carlos Pinto da Cruz, the man who had driven the Citi-Golf into South Africa the day after the murder, and had come back into Mozambique on foot a few hours later.

He admitted that the it was his photograph in Pinto da Cruz's Mozambican passport, but had no idea how it had got there.

But Pinto da Cruz had crossed the border in another car, a Mercedes-Benz, several times in December. The license plates of this car identified it as a vehicle that Anibalzinho admitted buying (though he claimed to have bought it for his father).

The records on border movements, provided by both the South African and the Mozambican authorities, proved that a man holding a passport in the name of Carlos Pinto da Cruz had driven this car, which Anibalzinho had admitted owning.

Even more convincing, one temporary export licence for the Mercedes issued at the Ressano Garcia border post named its owner as Carlos da Cruz, while another a few weeks later named the owner as Anibal dos Santos. The prosecution believes the only conclusion to be drawn is that da Cruz and Anibalzinho are one and the same person.

When interrogated by the then head of the Maputo Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Antonio Frangoulis, in April 2001, Anibalzinho denied everything. He denied knowing any of the co- accused, any of the witnesses who have testified against him, and anybody in the interior ministry.

He denied knowing Cardoso, though he said he had once gone to the offices of Cardoso's paper, "Metical", to buy a copy.

As for the property he had suddenly acquired in the weeks following Cardoso's death, Anibalzinho denied buying a house in the central Maputo suburb of Malhangalene, and said that the Volvo attributed to him in fact belongs to his mother. He said it had been purchased in South Africa by somebody called John, whose address he did not know.

As for his associates, he could only mention a Tanzanian named Dausse, who brought in cars from Swaziland and South Africa for sale. Anibalzinho told Frangoulis he did not know how to contact this Tanzanian, because he had lost his address book on the beach.

When Frangoulis asked what he had done on the day of the murder, Anibalzinho claimed he had been at home all day suffering from a fever. He went to hospital the following day for a malaria test.

Could he prove that ? Did the hospital record his visit ? No, Anibalzinho explained, because he slipped in illicitly to jump the queue "and solve the problem quickly".

Did he know Mario Matola (the man with whom he allegedly stole the Citi-Golf) ? Anibalzinho then launched into a story about nearly getting into a fight with Matola at a Maputo restaurant where he had been dining with a girlfriend.

Could the girlfriend confirm this story ? Unfortunately not - Anibalzinho said he had forgotten her name. She had been "passing through" from Beira, he claimed.

This litany of denial, read out to the court continued for a long time - and was completely undone by one brief statement from the South African police, who are looking for Anibalzinho. They regard him as a member of a gang of car thieves.

The South African statement listed a dozen cars stolen by this gang in Mozambique, sometimes at gunpoint, and taken across the border.

When Frangoulis confronted Anibalzinho with this, he said he knew nothing about it.

Although Anibalzinho has fled the country, his lawyer, Simiao Cuamba, is still representing him. Cuamba has abandoned one of the other accused, Manuel Fernandes, on the grounds that he did not tell him the truth (Fernandes confessed to the murder, retracted the confession, but on Tuesday made a new confession.) But he seems quite happy to go on acting for Anibalzinho: it can thus be deduced that, for Cuamba, lying to your lawyer is a much more serious offence than escaping from prison.

Judge lifts reporting restrictions

Maputo, 20 Nov (AIM) - Augusto Paulino, the judge presiding in the trial of the six men charged with murdering Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on Wednesday lifted the ban he had imposed on live broadcasts of the trial proceedings.

Paulino had imposed the ban at the start of the trial, saying he feared live broadcasts by radio and television might endanger the constitutionally-enshrined principle that accused persons are presumed innocent until a court finds otherwise.

However, the radio and television took the risk of disregarding Paulino's instruction. When, on Tuesday, he discovered that the proceedings were being televised live, he ordered an immediate stop.

This happened moments after one of the accused, Manuel Fernandes, had confessed to the murder, and claimed that it was ordered by Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano.

Paulino's move was thus interpreted in some quarters as political censorship.

The directors of Radio Mozambique and Mozambican Television (TVM), Manuel Veterano and Arlindo Lopes, submitted a request to the judge to reconsider his ruling.

At the start of proceedings on Wednesday, Paulino admitted that he was under "lots of pressure from society, from the media, from people throughout the country" to lift the ban on live broadcasts.

"People elsewhere in the country believe they have the same right as the people inside this tent (the courtroom is a large, air-conditioned tent erected inside the Maputo top security prison) to follow the trial", said Paulino. "The Mozambican people want to know what's going on".

When he had ordered that live broadcasts be interrupted in Tuesday "this was after a name had been mentioned, and the idea was spread that the court is afraid of this name. The court is not afraid of such names", he stressed.

Paulino then announced that from now on, he would leave the decision on what to broadcast, and what not to broadcast, in the hands of the media themselves.

But by the end of the day, it was the defence lawyers who were becoming worried by live broadcasts. Eduardo Jorge, the lawyer for Momade Assife Abdul Satar, who had just admitted paying for the murder (though he claimed he did not know what the money was used for), suggested that the judge should rethink his decision.

Jorge said that the "right of third parties to their good name" was under threat (a reference to Nyimpine Chissano and his mother Marcelina, both of whom his client had mentioned as linked to the murder).

He also claimed that live broadcasts might influence witnesses. Their statements could be "conditioned" by what they had heard on radio or television.

But Paulino declined to change his ruling again. "I will continue to leave it up to the media to decide what to broadcast", he said. "I hope the media will know how to be responsible".

Assassin implicates President's son

Maputo, 19 Nov (AIM) - One of the six men accused of the murder of Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on Tuesday confessed to the crime, and claimed that Nyimpine Chissano, businessman son of President Joaquim Chissano, had ordered the killing.

On the second day of the trial, the confessed assassin, Manuel Fernandes, told the court that his friend Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho") had recruited him into the hit squad on the day of the murder, 22 November 2000.

He said that Anibalzinho told him "I want to take you out of poverty. I have a job given to me by the great ones".

When Fernandes asked what "great ones" he was talking about, Anibalzinho replied "Nyimpine, the President's son".

When Anibalzinho promised him 500 million meticais (about 21,000 US dollars at today's exchange rates) "to stabilise your life", Fernandes agreed to take part in the murder.

He claimed that Anibalzinho assured him "It's OK, nobody will touch you".

They then drove in a stolen red Citi-Golf, with Anibalzinho at the wheel, to Avenida Martires de Machava, where "Metical", the paper owned and edited by Cardoso, had its office. There they were joined by Carlitos Rachid Cassamo. Fernandes said Anibalzinho gave Cassamo the murder weapon, an AK-47 assault rifle.

Cassamo insisted on testing the weapon to ensure it would not jam. Fernandes said they drove to a deserted motor sports track, near the city beach, where Cassamo fired a shot to prove the AK-47 was in working condition. They then drove back to "Metical".

When Cardoso and his driver, Carlos Manjate, left the office, shortly after 18.30, the Citi-Golf pursued them at speed. Fernandes said Anibalzinho overtook the "Metical" Toyota, and as he did so drew a pistol and fired a shot into the air.

Cardoso craned out of the window to see what was going on, and Cassamo then opened fire, twice, against his defenceless victim. The killers then sped off into the night. Fernandes did not know how many bullets Cassamo fired. It all took "a few fractions of a second", he said.

Fernandes added that the following day he accompanied Anibalzinho to the South African border. Anibalzinho drove the Citi-Golf across, while Fernandes, who did not have a passport, waited for him on the Mozambican side. Anibalzinho disposed of the murder vehicle and returned on foot. The pair took a minibus taxi back to Maputo.

Later that day, Anibalzinho gave Fernandes the first instalment of the promised 500 million meticais. This payment was only 30 million - Fernandes said he bought a mobile phone and a television set, put nine million in a bank account, and spent the rest on drink.

Weeks passed and Fernandes received no more money. He complained to Anibalzinho in January 2001.

Fernandes told the court "Anibalzinho urged me to be patient, and said Nyimpine had given orders to Nini to pay the money". (Nini is the nickname of Momade Assife Abdul Satar, one of the businessmen charged with ordered Cardoso's murder.)

Asked about the motivation of Nyimpine and Nini, Fernandes said he had no idea. "I didn't know either of these people", he said.

No more money was paid, and this, Fernandes said, eventually led him to repent of the murder. "I was all screwed up in my head because of Carlos Cardoso's death", he said. "I didn't want any more money, I just wanted Anibalzinho to get me out of this".

He accompanied Anibalzinho to Swaziland in late February 2001, and it was there that the Mozambican and Swazi police arrested them.

Fernandes has now given the authorities three versions. He made one, quite different confession, to the police in March, and even, in front of prosecution and defence lawyers, helped the police reconstitute the crime. A few months later, he retracted the confession and claimed that he was completely innocent.

Now he has made a confession which, in key details contradicts the earlier one. He had first claimed that Nini Satar drove up to the hit squad as it was waiting outside the "Metical" office, and delivered the AK-47 in a green bag.

But in Tuesday's version, the AK-47 was already in the car when Anibalzinho asked Fernandes to join the murder squad. He said he did not know how Anibalzinho had acquired the gun.

In his earlier statements, Fernandes had not mentioned Nyimpine Chissano. The only person who can corroborate the content of these conversations about payment is Anibalzinho, who is currently a fugitive. Anibalzinho disappeared from the Maputo top security prison on 1 September, when somebody conveniently unlocked all three padlocks to his cell door.

Asked about his March confession, Fernandes said "I said some things that were false, some things that were true, all mixed up".

He claimed he had been "tortured" into making that confession by the then head of the Maputo branch of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Antonio Frangoulis. On closer questioning, this "torture" turned out to have been late night interrogation.

"They wouldn't let me sleep", he claimed. "I incriminated people (including Nini Satar) because I wanted to get out".

"What I'm saying now is true", Fernandes insisted. "I know that with this truth I shall suffer many consequences. But God is great, so there's no problem".

One person who thinks there's a serious problem is Fernandes's lawyer, Simiao Cuamba. Aghast at his client's confession, Cuamba interrupted the proceedings to say that he could no longer represent Fernandes.

"My client has lied to his lawyer", Cuamba exclaimed.

But the judge Augusto Paulino said there was no way Cuamba could drop the case at this late stage. He ruled that Cuamba would continue representing Fernandes until a replacement lawyer was found.

Ayob Satar denies charges

Maputo, 19 Nov (AIM) - One of the businessmen accused of ordering the murder of Mozambique's best-known journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on Tuesday categorically denied any part in the assassination.

The businessman, Ayob Abdul Satar, owns the Unicambios chain of foreign exchange bureaux. Members of his family (his parents, two brothers, Momade Assife and Asslam, and a sister, Farida) are among those accused of defrauding the country's largest bank, the BCM, of the equivalent of 14 million US dollars in 1996.

This was a case that Cardoso had followed tenaciously, demanding that those responsible for the fraud be brought to justice. He had also investigated other illicit activities, involving Ayob Satar, including loansharking and illegal wire- tapping.

Satar said he bore Cardoso no grudges because of this. He regarded the accusations against him published in Cardoso's paper, "Metical", as "lies fabricated by the Magid family". (This is another Moslem business family of Asian descent, against whom the Abdul Satars have been waging a vendetta.)

He said "there might have been ill-feeling between us and the Magid family, but not between us and ''Metical''".

Satar claimed he never had any dealings with Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho") the man who allegedly organised the hit squad that carried out the assassination. He said the first he knew of the murder was from a Radio Mozambique news bulletin.

Much of the court's questioning hinged on the relationship between Ayob and his younger brother Momade Assife (known as "Nini"), who is also accused of ordering the murder.

Ayob said that Nini is not a shareholder in Unicambios, but works as its "commercial supervisor", for which he does not draw a salary. He repeatedly described Nini as "a businessman in his own right".

But when asked what businesses Nini owns, Ayob Satar declined to answer. When the court insisted, he replied "He has his businesses, he can answer for himself".

The court was also fascinated by a series of cheques issued to Ayob Satar by the Polana Casino and totalling some seven billion meticais (almost 300,000 US dollars). These cheques had been entered in evidence by Satar himself, as part of his defence.

The defence claim is that Gary Rouper, the South African who was then managing the casino, owed Nini vast sums of money. He paid with cheques that were "pre-dated" (i.e. they could not be cashed before a certain date). Rouper then allegedly paid a man named Oswaldo Muianga to incriminate both Satar brothers in the murder of Cardoso, placing them at meetings where the crime was discussed.

The defence argument is that these meetings, supposedly held in the Rovuma Hotel in central Maputo, never took place, and the sole point of Muianga's story was to ensure that the Satars were locked up before the cheques could be cashed.

But the cheques were decidedly odd. The court, and the prosecution lawyers, repeatedly asked Ayob Satar why the cheques were made out to him, when the money was supposedly owed to his brother.

He claimed that Nini told him he was leaving Maputo for northern Mozambique, and wanted Ayob to collect the money for him, and pay him when he returned. The judge, Augusto Paulino, found this rather odd, in the days of electronic, on-line banking. The prosecution also pointed out that Nini should have had no difficulty in cashing the cheques elsewhere in the country.

Lucinda Cruz, lawyer for the Cardoso family, noted that, far from being "pre-dated", most of the cheques bore no date at all, and could have been cashed at any time. Furthermore, one cheque did seem to have been deposited, since it bore a stamp from the cooperative bank, Credicoop.

Ayob said that in fact his brother did not leave Maputo. In that case, what was the problem ? - why not simply issue the cheques to Nini.

Satar repeatedly said that he was arrested at the very moment the cheques should have been cashed. But Cruz pointed out that two of the cheques did bear dates - 21 and 27 February 2001. The Satar brothers were only arrested on 13 March. So there was plenty of time to cash those two cheques.

Satar could not reply to any of these questions, and simply remitted the court to his brother. Over and over again, he said "only Momade Assife can answer that".

At one point, Satar's lawyer, Domingos Arouca protested at the court's line of questioning. "My client is not here to answer for his brother", he said. "These cheques have nothing to do with Unicambios. You are massacring Ayob Satar".

"A massacre is what happened at Wiriamu (site of a notorious massacre by the Portuguese colonial army in 1972)", retorted Judge Paulino. "Massacres are what the Israelis do to the Palestinians. We must use our terms correctly".

He silenced Arouca by pointing out that the request to include the cheques in the case file was signed by none other than Domingos Arouca, in his capacity as Satar's legal representative.

The issue would not die away. What exactly was the nature of Nini's dealings with the Polana Casino ?, Satar was asked. Was he not at all curious at these huge sums of money apparently owed to his brother ? What was the origin of the money Nini lent to the casino ?

He could give no satisfactory answer to any of this probing. "My brother is a businessman and an adult", he said.

President Chissano says he will not interfere

Maputo, 19 Nov (AIM) - Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano on Tuesday said he prefers to make no comment on the alleged involvement of his oldest son, Nyimpine, in the murder of the country's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso.

At the trial of the six men charged with the murder, one of the accused, Manuel Fernandes, claimed he was told that the person who ordered the killing was Nyimpine Chissano.

The president's press attache, Antonio Matonse, told AIM that Chissano "does not wish to make any comment on this subject".

"The President of the Republic would not like any comment he might make to influence the trial in any way. What the President wants is justice", said Matonse.

He said that Chissano wishes the trial to continue normally, regardless of the mention made of his son.

Trial opens under tight security

Maputo, 18 Nov (AIM) - The trial of the six men accused of murdering Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on 22 November 2000 opened in Maputo on Monday under tight security.

The trial is taking place in a large tent erected in the grounds of the top security prison where the six accused are incarcerated.

To enter, members of the public must identify themselves, and fill out an identify form provided by the Supreme Court. Metal detectors are run over them once at the entrance to the prison, and again, much more thoroughly, at the entrance to the tent.

Before entering the tent, anything metallic, right down to house keys, is removed and may be reclaimed by the owner at the end of the day's hearing.

No mobile phones are allowed into the prison, except those carried by the magistrates and lawyers involved in the case. No cameras may be brought in, except by accredited journalists.

Journalists have been warned that they may film and take pictures inside the tent, but not of the rest of the prison.

The tent seats about 500 people, with a section of seating set aside for the press. On Monday it was nearly full.

The men in the dock are businessmen Ayob and Momade Abdul Satar, former bank manager Vicente Ramaya, and two members of the hit squad that they allegedly recruited to murder Cardoso, Manuel Fernandes and Carlitos Rashid Cassamo. The third member of the hit squad, Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), escaped from the prison on 1 September, and is being tried in absentia.

They face charges of the murder of Cardoso, the attempted murder of his driver, Carlos Manjate, the formation of a criminal association, and the illegal possession and use of firearms, Anibalzinho also faces charges of use of a false passport, and making false statements to the authorities.

Five judges are hearing the case, chaired by the investigating magistrate Augusto Paulino.

In addition to the charge sheet from the Public Prosecutor's Office, there are two private prosecutions. One is from the Cardoso family, represented by lawyer Lucinda Cruz, and the second is from Carlos Manjate, represented by Helder Matlaba.

Seated in the front row is Cardoso's widow, Nina Berg. Alongside her, giving comfort, is the widow of another murdered Mozambican, Graca Machel.

Despite issuing threats last Friday that they would boycott the trial, if it was held in the prison, all five defence lawyers - Domingos Arouca, Simiao Cuamba, Abdul Gani, Eduardo Jorge and Samuel Valentim - attended the hearing.

But right at the start of proceedings, they raised their objection to the venue as a "prior question".

On Friday the lawyers had alleged that the prison was chosen in order to hold the trial "in secret", far from the eyes of the public. But with hundreds of people present and TV cameras filming the proceedings, they could no longer use that argument.

So Arouca fell back on a technical point. He claimed that the prison was outside the area of jurisdiction of the Maputo court. The prison is actually not in Maputo city, but in Machava, which is a suburb of the neighbouring city of Matola.

So the relevant court, Arouca claimed was not the Maputo City Court, but the Maputo Provincial Court, which is based in Matola. The Maputo City court was "territorially incompetent", he claimed.

Paulino ruled that this was not a "prior question", since the lawyers had already raised the matter on Friday, and he had given his reply within two hours, stating that the Court was empowered to hold its sessions anywhere in the country that it deemed appropriate.

The key issue of jurisdiction was the place where the crime was committed, not the place where the trial was held. Since the murder occurred in Maputo city, the Maputo city court had jurisdiction, and could choose the venue for the trial.

Prosecution states its case

Maputo, 18 Nov (AIM) - The prosecution in the trial of the six men accused of murdering Mozambique's top investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso on Monday argued that the motive for the assassination was Cardoso's tenacious investigation into an enormous bank fraud.

The case, as outlined both by the public prosecutor's office, and by lawyers Lucinda Cruz and Helder Matlaba, representing the Cardoso family and Cardoso's wounded driver, Carlos Manjate, hinged on the fraud, which resulted in syphoning off 144 billion meticais (14 million US dollars at the exchange rate of the time) from the country's largest bank, the BCM, on the eve of its privatisation in 1996.

Those accused of masterminding the fraud are Vicente Ramaya and members of the Abdul Satar business family. Accounts for the Abdul Satars and their associates were opened in Ramaya's BCM branch. Worthless cheques were deposited in those accounts, which were illegitimately cleared, and vast sums of money were taken out.

The prosecution argued that three of those accused of the murder - Ramaya, Ayob Satar and his brother Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini") - were initially more concerned with eliminating the BCM's lawyer, Albano Silva, than with Cardoso.

One attempt to assassinate Silva failed in November 1999. The prosecution claimed that Anibalzinho was one of those hired to carry out the murder, and he explained to Nini Satar that it was a problem with payment that aborted the operation.

In meetings allegedly held in the Rovuma Hotel in central Maputo, the two Satars, Ramaya, Anibalzinho and Oswaldo Muianga (now a prosecution witness) plotted a second attempt on Silva's life.

But the plotters were also worried about the articles that Cardoso was publishing in "Metical", the daily newsheet he owned and edited. Their alarm became acute when Cardoso concentrated his fire against corruption in the Attorney-General's Office.

For it was thanks to this corruption that the BCM case never made it to the courts. Instead, the attorney initially in charge of the case, Diamantino dos Santos, deliberately disorganised the case papers, and removed key documents, so that the case was in no condition to be tried.

(A warrant was issued for Diamantino's arrest in January 2001, but he fled the country before it could be served.)

Cardoso publicly demanded a thorough shake-up in the Attorney-General's Office, and insisted that President Joaquim Chissano should sack the corrupt attorneys. In July 2000, Chissano took action: he sacked Attorney General Antonio Namburete and all six of the assistant attorney-generals.

"Cardoso continued to insist publicly that the BCM case must come to trial", said Cruz. "His was the only one of the media that was not prepared to let the case become forgotten".

Furthermore, Cardoso had also begun investigating, and publishing articles about, other "illegal and unethical" activities of the Abdul Satar family.

When Namburete fell, and a new Attorney-General, Joaquim Madeira, was appointed, those responsible for the BCM fraud realised that they had lost the impunity they had previously enjoyed.

They blamed Cardoso: he was the man who had overthrown the entire Attorney-General's Office. The prosecution argues that the plotters' attentions then switched from Silva to Cardoso. Nini Satar allegedly made a phone call putting the murder of Silva on hold, until "this second matter" had been dealt with.

Cruz cited articles published in "Metical" in early October 2000 as decisive in the decision to assassinate Cardoso.

Anibalzinho, according to the prosecution, recruited two others to form a hit squad - his close friends Manuel Fernandes and Carlitos Cassamo.

Cassamo spied out the "Metical" offices. For over a month, he would go there every afternoon, buying a single copy of the paper, and always paying in large denomination banknotes. This gave him plenty of time to spy on Cardoso, and on the office, while the "Metical" staff looked for change.

On at least two occasions he was accompanied by Anibalzinho, who once asked "Is that white guy Carlos Cardoso ?".

On 22 November, shortly after 16.00, Anibalzinho and Fernandes drove in a stolen red Citi-Golf to Avenida Martires de Machava, where the "Metical" offices were located. There, according to the prosecution, Cassamo was waiting for them.

Shortly afterwards, Nini Satar drove up and handed Cassamo a green bag containing the murder weapon, an AK-47 assault rifle. Satar then drove away.

At about 18.30, Cardoso left the office, in a blue Toyota, with his driver, Carlos Manjate, at the wheel. Anibalzinho drove the Citi-Golf in pursuit, and a couple of hundred metres later overtook, and forced Manjate to a halt. Cassamo opened fire, killing Cardoso instantly and seriously injuring Manjate.

That night, the prosecution claims, Anibalzinho gave Fernandes 30 million meticais, the first payment for his part in the murder.

In the ensuing weeks, both Anibalzinho and Fernandes showed signs of considerable wealth. Anibalzinho bought a house near a central Maputo market, a Volvo in South Africa, a Mercedes Benz and a Toyota minibus.

The private prosecutions are demanding compensation from the accused. The Cardoso family is demanding 14 billion meticais in compensation for Cardoso's two young children, 12 year old Ibo, and six year old Milena.

Manjate, who can no longer drive a car, and has been disfigured for life, is demanding 500 million meticais compensation.

In brief opening statements, the defence lawyers attacked the credibility of two prosecution witnesses. Domingos Arouca, representing Ayob Satar, claimed that Oswaldo Muianga had been incited by Gerry Roup, once the manager of the Polana Casino in Maputo, but whose whereabouts are now conveniently unknown, to incriminate Nini Satar. Roup allegedly owed Satar seven billion meticais, and cheques for this amount were about to be cashed when Satar was arrested.

Arouca pointed out that Muianga has retracted his initial statements concerning the meetings supposedly held in the Rovuma. This is true - but Arouca neglected to mention that Muianga subsequently retracted his retraction.

The second witness denounced by the defence is Rohit Kumar, who faces charges of murder in another, unrelated case - yet is enjoying provisional freedom. Arouca claimed that Kumar is an unreliable witness who has lied to the court.

Although Anibalzinho's escape is read by many as a tacit admission of guilt, his lawyer, Simiao Cuamba, continues to defend him. He claimed that the only evidence against Anibalzinho and Fernandes consisted of "assumptions".

Fernandes, however, at one point confessed to the crime, and even helped the police reconstruct it, in the presence of both defence and prosecution lawyers. Cuamba claimed he made this confession because of "psychological torture".

Cassamo's lawyer, Samuel Valentim, claimed his client's only offence was to be "a devoted reader of ''Metical''" - the only remark in the entire proceedings which caused a wave of involuntary giggles in the courtroom.

The only lawyer who declined to speak was Eduardo Jorge, representing Nini Satar. He said his client preferred to speak for himself under questioning later in the trial.

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