Maputo, 11 Dec (AIM) - A witness in the Carlos Cardoso murder trial on Wednesday told the Maputo City Court that he had received a threatening phone call from Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the fugitive who was illicitly released from the Maputo top security prison on 1 September.
Anibalzinho is accused of organising the death squad that murdered journalist Carlos Cardoso on 22 November 2000. He is being tried in absentia along with five other accused.
Prosecution witness Vasco Matavele ("Vasquinho") failed to appear in court on Tuesday morning: when the subpoena was served, he told a court official that he dared not attend "because my personal safety is not guaranteed".
He told the court he changed his mind (on hearing that an arrest warrant was about to be issued), and drove to the court on Tuesday afternoon, by which time the session was over.
Matavele was extremely nervous as he gave his testimony, fumbled with the microphone, and often spoke almost inaudibly.
Asked whether he had been threatened, he said he had received an anonymous phone call on Friday, warning him not to make any statement to the court. He recognised the caller as Anibalzinho. Matavele added that Anibalzinho told him "I got out of prison by my own devices, it had nothing to do with Nyimpine" (businessman Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano). Anibalzinho's lawyer, Simeao Cuamba, demanded to know the number of Matavele's phone. Presiding judge Augusto Paulino ruled the question out of order - on the grounds of protecting witnesses, they are not obliged to give their addresses or phone numbers in public court sessions.
Asked about his relations with Anibalzinho, Matavele said he had once dealt with changing the number plates on one of Anibalzinho's many cars. The paperwork took a long time, and Anibalzinho had threatened "Vasquinho, if you play with me, I'll rub you out".
At this, Matavele gave up dealing with the number plates "and I handed the papers to other people". (This was almost certainly an illegal transaction, since Anibalzinho was notorious for trafficking vehicles, including stolen ones, between South Africa and Mozambique.) Matavele said he had been on friendly terms with another prosecution witness, Osvaldo Muianga ("Dudu"), who was also a close associate of Anibalzinho. (Muianga is currently under arrest, charged, along with Anibalzinho and several others, with the attempted murder of lawyer Albano Silva in 1999.) Matavele recalled that a very disheartened Muianga joined him and a group of friends in a bar, shortly after the murder of Cardoso, and muttered "those guys have betrayed me", and "those with the money have betrayed me", though he did not explain clearly what this "betrayal" consisted of.
He suspected that Muianga knew something about the murder, and believed that by "those guys" he meant Anibalzinho and the Maputo loan shark Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini"), one of the those charged with ordering the assassination.
Matavele recalled that Muianga had once been Anibalzinho's "right hand man", but by early 2001 he was "marginalised". He claimed that when it became clear that Muianga knew something about the murder, he advised him to speak to the then head of the Maputo Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Antonio Frangoulis, advice which Muianga took.
Asked about his relations with two other criminals who were part of Anibalzinho's entourage, Miguel Chamusse and Fernando Magno, he said that both had shown signs of increased wealth shortly before Cardoso's murder. He said that Chamusse "stopped burgling houses", and started travelling abroad.
Chamusse is not available to give evidence: he died in South Africa in 2001, either murdered, or in a traffic accident - accounts vary. Magno is another of those charged with the attempted murder of Albano Silva.
Matavele said that Magno and Anibalzinho had worked closely together prior to the death of Cardoso, but had separated afterwards. He recalled Anibalzinho threatening to kill "those people interfering in my life", and believed he was referring to Muianga and Magno.
Magno admitted to Matavele that he had been hired to kill Albano Silva, but bungled the job and kept the money.
Cuamba read out a section from an interview with Matavele in the earlier investigations: then he had also claimed that Magno had acted as a liaison between Anibalzinho and Nini Satar. Magno supposedly told Matavele that he had been contacted about assassinating Cardoso, but said there had been no follow-up to that initial contact.
The link between the Cardoso murder and the attempt on Silva's life is the major bank fraud of 1996, in which the equivalent of 14 million US dollars was stolen from the country's largest bank, the BCM. The money disappeared through accounts opened in the names of Nini Satar and other members of the Abdul Satar family, opened in the BCM branch managed by Vicente Ramaya, another of the accused.
Albano Silva was the BCM's lawyer, and was attempting to bring Ramaya and the Satars to justice, and recover the money.
Cardoso wrote articles about the fraud and the other illicit dealings of the Satar family in "Metical", the paper he owned and edited.
Maputo, 11 Dec (AIM) - The judge presiding at the Carlos Cardoso murder trial, Augusto Paulino, on Wednesday ordered the immediate arrest of two witnesses for perjury.
Giving testimony to the Maputo City Court, both Luis Matusse and Dorival Quintano contradicted what they had said during earlier stages of the investigation. Since they were under an obligation to tell the truth on both occasions, they had committed perjury either then or now.
On Wednesday, Matusse told the court virtually nothing, playing down everything that he had once claimed to know about Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho") and Osvaldo Muianga ("Dudu"). Anibalzinho is the man charged with organising the assassination of Cardoso, and driving the death squad's car. Muianga was once a close colleague, but fell out with him over money.
During the preparatory investigations, Matusse said that Muianga had been pleased at hearing of Anibalzinho's arrest in February 2001 in connection with the murder of Cardoso. He recalled Muianga exclaiming "That's excellent! He (Anibalzinho) took all the money for himself".
But speaking to the court on Wednesday he could not remember Muianga saying anything when Anibalzinho's was arrested. Furthermore, he now placed Muianga's remark about money before the murder - thus implying that the money referred to could have nothing to do with payment for the assassination.
As for Quintano, he gave quite variant accounts of the wealth of another of the accused, Manuel Fernandes ("Escurinho"), during the preliminary investigations and before the court.
During the investigation, he said that immediately after the murder of Cardoso, he, Fernandes and two others had spent an entire night in a bar - Fernandes had paid the bill for food and drink, and it came to six million meticais (about 250 US dollars).
But on Wednesday he scaled the bill down to "600 or 700 thousand meticais". Perhaps this discrepancy is due to careless typing, with a zero too many in the written account of the earlier interrogation. But the other problems cannot be so easily dismissed. Quintano had initially claimed that he had accompanied Fernandes in buying a TV set costing over 12 million meticais in the week following the murder. But now he alleges the TV was purchased "some time between June and August" - i.e. at least three months before Cardoso was assassinated.
On Wednesday he denied that Fernandes had shown any sudden wealth after the killing, and said the only item he had bought was a mobile phone.
In his initial statement, Quintano said that Fernandes was together with Anibalzinho in the Maputo suburb of Alto-Mae (where Fernandes is a neighbour of Quintano) on the day of the murder, 22 November 2000. He saw them drive off together late in the afternoon, and return at about 21.00 (Cardoso was murdered at around 18.40).
But when asked the same question on Wednesday, Quintano said Fernandes "was with me part of the time, I don't know about the rest". When Paulino pressed him, he remained vague. "I saw Anibalzinho in the morning, and Fernandes in the afternoon", he said.
After this performance, the prosecuting attorney, Mourao Baluce, said criminal proceedings would be opened against both men for perjury, and Paulino ordered their immediate detention. They left the court under police escort.
Quintano's perjury presumably results from his close friendship with Fernandes. But it makes no sense - since Fernandes confessed in full to his part in the murder on the second day of the trial.
A third witness, Helder Miranda, posed no such difficulties.
He said he had provided "services" for Anibalzinho, by taking his passport to the South African High Commission in Maputo to obtain entry visas.
But the passport Anibalzinho gave him was not in his own name, but in that of Carlos Pinto da Cruz. It was, according to the records of both the Mozambican and South African border controls, a man named Carlos Pinto da Cruz who drove the vehicle used in the murder, a red Citi-Golf, into South Africa the day after Cardoso was assassinated.
The defence insists that Carlos Pinto da Cruz has nothing to do with Anibalzinho, while the prosecution argues that they are one and the same person.
Shown the passport in the name of Carlos Pinto da Cruz that was seized by the police at the time of Anibalzinho's arrest, Miranda confirmed that this was the passport he had taken to the South African High Commission on Anibalzinho's behalf.
Maputo, 11 Dec (AIM) - Money lender Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini"), one of those accused of ordering the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso, lied to the police when he claimed that a cheque for 1.3 billion meticais (over 50,000 US dollars) had been stolen from him, according to a report in Wednesday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax".
This cheque came under the spotlight on Monday during the evidence given at the Cardoso murder trial by businesswomen Candida Cossa.
According to her, this cheque was issued by Nini Satar to pay for three Mercedes-Benz saloons. These vehicles had been puchased on credit in South Africa by Nyimpine and N'naite Chissano (the sons of President Joaquim Chissano), and their business partner Apolinario Pateguana.
When the three failed to pay, the Durban car salesman came to Maputo demanding his money. The solution found was to ask Satar for a loan. According to Cossa, he issued a cheque for 1.3 billion meticais, but when she tried to cash it, it bounced. She then gave the cheque to local businessman Suleman Ahmed, a relative of the Durban salesman.
Satar, however, claimed the cheque had been stolen and put in a complaint to that effect with the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC). He was, in effect, demanding the arrest of Ahmed for theft.
"Mediafax", however, has obtained the document from Ahmed's lawyer, sent to PIC demanding action against Satar for "malicious denunciations". Satar had spun a lengthy story to PIC about how the cheque had supposedly been delivered in September 1999 to one Aboobacar Mahomed Ismail as security for payment of a house Satar was buying in South Africa. The cheque, which was dated 30 September 1999, was to be returned to Satar as soon as he had paid for the house in cash.
But the cheque, Satar alleged, disappeared from Aboobacar's residence in South Africa. Nonetheless, he paid the cash for the house, and later found that an attempt had been made to deposit the cheque in Suleman Ahmed's account. He was therefore taking legal action against Ahmed.
Ahmed's lawyer pointed to several large holes in Satar's account. In his complaint to PIC he did not say when he became aware of the disappearance of the cheque, or when he had communicated this to the issuing bank (the Austral Bank). Nor did he present the slightest proof that he had bought a house from Aboobacar.
Despite all this, PIC summoned Ahmed for interrogation on 29 June 2000. He refused to go and refused to hand over the cheque He told the police that Candida Cossa had given him the cheque to pay for the three vehicles, and he had no idea of the circumstances under which Cossa had obtained the cheque from Satar. He had deposited the cheque in his account on 14 June 2000, and it bounced.
At the time he deposited the cheque, no complaint had been lodged with the Austral Bank that the cheque had been stolen. It was only after the cheque bounced that Satar went to Austral and alleged that it had been stolen.
The lawyer could also quote a declaration from Cossa, dated 28 July 2000, that she had handed the cheque to Ahmed.
According to Cossa's testimony on Monday, it was this declaration that Satar was desperate that she change. She said he had held her against her will in a room in the Rovuma Hotel, obliging her to alter her declaration by threatening to abduct one of her children.
Despite Ahmed's insistence that Satar should be sued for "malicious denunciation", PIC took no action.
"Mediafax" also sheds some light on the loan of 450,000 dollars made by Cossa to Zulficar Sulemane, a businessman in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, via Vicente Ramaya, another of those charged with ordering the murder of Cardoso.
Despite the huge sum involved, Cossa made the loan in 1999 without any security, and so far nothing at all has been repaid. She appears to have made no effort to collect her money.
Cossa told the court that early this year she went to Ramaya's wife, Mariamo, to demand the money. But when Mariamo Ramaya burst into tears, she took pity and gave up. "Mediafax" has acquired a copy of the legally binding "confession of debt" signed by Sulemane on 22 March 2000. This acknowledges the debt of 450,000 dollars to Cossa, and promises to repay it by the end of 2004, but without any interest.
The money is to be repaid in 45 monthly instalments of 10,000 dollars each, starting on 30 May 2000. But, according to Cossa, she has still received nothing at all.
However, this time there is some security. Sulemane has promised that failure to pay the monthly installments will result in forfeiting four buildings owned by his family in Cabo Delgado in favour of Cossa. But on the witness stand Cossa said nothing about receiving any buildings.
Mysteriously enough, although Ramaya claimed he was only a middleman, "Mediafax" has copies of seven cheques signed by Sulemane in favour of Ramaya between October 1999 and February 2000, and which amount to 916,760 dollars.
On the face of it, it looks as if Sulemane did not pay Cossa the 450,000 dollars he admits owing her, but paid her "friend", Vicente Ramaya over twice as much.
Clearly there is still a great deal that is hidden about the business dealings
of these extraordinarily rich and devious people.
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