Maputo, 19 Dec (AIM) - The fugitive Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), one of the six men charged with the murder of Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, has sent a video tape from his hideout to the Maputo City Court - but the judge presiding at the murder trial, Augusto Paulino, on Thursday refused point blank to show the tape.
Antonio Frangoulis, the former head of the Maputo branch of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), received the tape on Monday from the hands of Anibalzinho's mother, Teresinha Mendonca.
He passed it on to the court on Wednesday, but first took the precaution of viewing it himself, just to ensure that it was what Mendonca said, and not a hoax. "I couldn't risk handing a pornografic tape to the court", Frangoulis told the weekly paper "Zambeze".
He declined to reveal the content of the tape, but guaranteed that he recognised the face and voice of Anibalzinho on the tape.
At Thursday session of the trial, Paulino read out the short dispatch he had issued the previous day on how to deal with the tape. It said simply "Deposit the tape in the strongbox and wait for the accused to appear in court".
"This individual is in hiding, we don't know where, and he sends us tapes telling the court how it should operate", said Paulino. "He sends us tapes instead of presenting himself".
Paulino said he regarded this as a matter of "state sovereignty". The state, he insisted, "cannot be held hostage to the will of a simple Anibalzinho. It cannot be subject to the remote control of an Anibalzinho".
The modern definition of a state, he added, was "the people, politically organised, in a given territory - and the Mozambican people, politically organised from the Rovuma to the Maputo (the rivers marking the northern and southern boundaries of the country), cannot be manipulated by remote control by Anibalzinho".
"Anibalzinho may be stronger than each one of us individually, but he is not stronger than the state", the judge added.
So the tape stays under lock and key - and if Anibalzinho is never recaptured, then it will be destroyed, Paulino pledged.
Paulino also revealed that the court has written to the Portuguese authorities seeking their collaboration in the re- arrest of Anibalzinho.
After Anibalzinho was illicitly released from the top security prison on 1 September, the court waited the statutory 60 days to give him a chance to surrender, and then went ahead with the procedure for trying him in absentia. But, under a judicial agreement between Mozambique and Portugal, the court also contacted the Portuguese Ministry of Justice "since Anibalzinho is a Portuguese citizen, and murder is a crime in Portugal too", said Paulino.
Should Anibalzinho be found in Portugal, the court asked that he be arrested and tried there. Copies of this request - in both Portuguese and English - were sent to the Mozambican Foreign Ministry, so that they could be passed on to other countries.
Has this been done? Government officials have repeatedly claimed that the police forces of neighbouring countries and Interpol have been informed of the hunt for Anibalzinho - but AIM knows of no evidence to back up these claims. On the contrary, there has been no sign of Anibalzinho's name in the "Wanted" section of the Interpol website on the Internet.
Other copies of the Anibalzinho tape are circulating in Maputo. One of those who had seen it told AIM that it was "full of lies".
The political purpose of the tape is clear - for in it Anibalzinho claims that those who ordered the killing of Cardoso were the brothers Ayob and Momade Abdul Satar, and nobody else.
He claims that another of the accused, former bank manager Vicente Ramaya, had nothing to do with the killing, and that businessman Nyimpine Chissano, oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano, is also innocent.
The suspicion arises that Anibalzinho's release was conditional on him heaping the entire blame for the killings onto the shoulders of the Satars, who have become expendable.
Anibalzinho also apologises to the family of Cardoso "for everything that happened". But the family and friends of Carlos Cardoso do not want his apologies - they want Anibalzinho brought to justice, joining his co-conspirators before the Maputo City Court.
The tape "makes you want to throw up", said AIM's source. "He's a monster".
Maputo, 19 Dec (AIM) - Defence lawyers in the Carlos Cardoso murder trial on Thursday tried to discredit a key prosecution witness, Osvaldo Muianga, by showing that conspiratorial meetings he claimed to have attended could not have happened.
Muianga has repeatedly changed his story. Initially, he spoke of a series of meetings held in "room 105 or 106" of the Rovuma Hotel which plotted to assassinate lawyer Albano Silva and journalist Carlos Cardoso.
He later retracted this story, and then retracted the retraction. When he took the witness stand in the trial, he insisted that the meetings at the Rovuma had taken place, involving four of the accused, the fugitive Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), loan shark Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini"), his brother Ayob, and former bank manager Vicente Ramaya.
But in this latest version the meetings were held exclusively to discuss murdering Albano Silva, and said nothing about Cardoso. Furthermore, Muianga's memory of the Rovuma had gone blank. He could no longer remember which floor or room the meetings had been held in. He thought they had been held in a "normal" room with no television or mini-bar.
On Thursday, Momade Satar's lawyer, Eduardo Jorge, called the resident manager of the Rovuma, Vasco Manhica, to the witness stand. He said that the room numbers in the hotel start at 401, and go to 1216: the numbering is such because there are rooms on the fourth to twelfth floors. The lower floors are occupied with shops, offices, restaurants, bars, and conference facilities.
Although Manhica has only worked in the Rovuma since February 2002 (two years after the meetings described by Muianga), he was sure that the numbering of the rooms had never changed.
All the rooms possess televisions, he said. He thought there was only a "remote possibility" that any room had been left temporarily without a television: for, whenever a TV set breaks down, and the client complains, the hotel immediately replaces it.
In principle, visitors should not be able to access the hotel rooms without hotel staff being aware of their presence, he said. But he admitted that there is no real control: visitors do not have to go via the reception to reach the rooms, they can instead take a lift from the second floor bar, and there are no controls over who enters the bar.
The court also heard from Momade Satar's bodyguard, Orlando Maluleque (not Orlando Malate, as erroneously reported to the court on Wednesday), who seemed to have an excellent memory for the day of Cardoso's murder, but a very patchy one for events before or after the killing.
On that day, 22 November 2000, he and Satar went to Satar's home as usual, leaving Satar's office at the Unicambios foreign exchange bureau at 17.30 or 18.00. Maluleque hung around in the car, chatting to other guards, waiting to see if his employer had any other tasks for him.
He said he heard of Cardoso's murder on the 19.30 news on Radio Mozambique, and at 20.00 he knocked on the door, and asked Satar if he could go home. Satar obliged, but before he left, he saw Satar drive off with a friend named Firoz. (Satar claims that on that night he dined with Firoz and with a second friend, Riaz).
Asked about businessman Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano, Maluleque said he had visited Satar at Unicambios "many times". But under further question it turned out that Maluleque's idea of "many" is any number bigger than two.
He scaled Chissano's visits to Unicambios down to at least three, but added that he had gone with Satar to Chissano's office "three or four times". Asked about this office, Maluleque gave a reasonably accurate description of the whereabouts of Nyimpine Chissano's company, the travel agency and car hire firm, Expresso Tours.
The bodyguard thus claimed that his employer had met with Nyimpine Chissano on at least six occasions, thus frontally contradicting Chissano who told the court that he had only met Momade Satar once and had never done any business with him.
Maluleque claimed that Satar paid him a wage of just a million meticais ($42 at current exchange rates) a month, and that since the arrest of the Satar brothers in March 2001 he has not been paid at all.
The Thursday trial session came to an early end, because the defence had no more witnesses to present. The defence lawyers had drawn up a much longer list of witnesses - but at the last moment decided to dispense with at least half of them.
One defence witness, Phillip Nevitt, the former financial manager of the Polana Casino, is currently in South Africa, and will be called later.
The prosecution expressed an interest in calling Albano Silva to testify, while the defence suddenly asked for journalist Marcelo Mosse, who was effectively Cardoso's deputy on the daily newsheet "Metical", to be subpoenaed.
The presiding judge, Augusto Paulino, wanted to hear a more detailed justification for both these requests before he would grant them.
With no further business, Paulino adjourned the court for the festive season. The trial will resume on 6 January. Paulino warned that there will be no further interruptions: thus as soon as the defence, the prosecution and the court itself have stopped calling on people to give evidence or clarify points, the lawyers must be prepared to make their closing statements.
Maputo, 19 Dec (AIM) - One of Mozambique's top police investigators, Antonio Frangoulis, has said that he is abandoning police work, reports the latest issue of the weekly paper "Zambeze".
Frangoulis was the chief investigator in the murder of Mozambique's best known journalist, Carlos Cardoso, and it is partly due to his work that five suspects are currently in the dock before the Maputo City Court.
Had his advice been heeded, then a sixth would be there. For Frangoulis warned both Interior Minister Almerino Manhenje and the general commander of the police, Miguel dos Santos, that Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the man who organized the death squad that gunned down Cardoso, was planning to escape.
His superiors paid no attention, no additional security measures were taken, and on 1 September the padlocks on Anibalzinho's cell were unlocked, and he walked out of what is supposed to be a top security jail.
Furthermore, in July Frangoulis was inexplicably sacked from his post as director of the Maputo branch of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC). Currently, he is earning his living largely as a law lecturer.
"This is the last time I work actively in the police", he told the paper. "I'm not taking it any more. There's no seriousness. There's a great lack of serious and honest people".
When "Zambeze" asked him to explain what he meant by lack of seriousness, Frangoulis replied "I'm not the one who should explain this. What is certain is that I have a wife and children and I don't want to get into these things any more. I'm 45 years old now, and I've given my youth to the police".
"I told my wife I'm not afraid of being killed", he added. "But I do fear that they will kill my family".
Frangoulis has received death threats over the phone from Anibalzinho, but despite this the Interior Ministry has taken no special measures to protect him.
Indeed, the Ministry even withdrew Frangoulis's personal gun. When he made a noise about this in the press, it was returned to him. The Ministry tried to withdraw his bodyguard, but the bodyguard refused to go.
But one bodyguard is scarcely enough for a man who has become a target for organised crime. Frangoulis has written letters to the government requesting proper protection, but there is little sign of any response.
The deputy commander of the police force, Jorge Khalau, used to live next to Frangoulis, and so Frangoulis could benefit from his guards. But Khalau moved house last weekend, taking his guards with him. So Frangoulis now feels exposed. Nonetheless, he ended the interview with the defiant words "If they kill me, I guarantee they won't kill the truth".
Maputo, 19 Dec (AIM) - The Maputo City Court will question businessman Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano, in connection with the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso, "before Christmas", according to anonymous sources cited by Thursday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax".
The court will also question Octavio Muthemba, a former industry minister, who was chairman of the board of the privatised Austral Bank as it slid towards ruin in the 1977-2001 period.
Chissano has already given evidence in the current trial of six people charged with the murder. Then he was a witness - but when he and Muthemba are questioned next week (presumably on Monday or Tuesday) they will be suspects.
The claim that Chissano and Muthemba were involved in ordering Cardoso's murder comes from loan shark Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini"), one of the accused in the current trial.
Satar admits making payments to Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the man who organised the death squad that killed Cardoso. However, he claims he did so at the request of Nyimpine Chissano, and did not realise that the money was payment for a contract killing.
Satar's story is that Chissano approached him for a loan of 1.2 billion meticais ($50,000), but stipulated that the money was to be paid to Anibalzinho. Chissano was to repay Satar through a series of postdated cheques which totalled 1.29 billion meticais (including interest).
Satar has given the court seven cheques bearing Chissano's signature which he claims were to cover the payments to Anibalzinho.
Satar's claims against Muthemba are far weaker. He said in court that his mention of Muthemba's name resulted merely from "conversations I heard in the prison".
Chissano has denied entering into any business deals with Satar. When he gave evidence he said that, although the cheques were indeed his, they had been given to pay a debt incurred, not with Satar, but with businesswoman Candida Cossa.
Candida Cossa's story is very different, and indicated a network of dealings between Satar, herself and Chissano's company, Expresso Tours.
"Mediafax" also notes that last weekend's meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Frelimo Party paid precious little attention to the murder trial.
Although Mozambicans throughout the country have been following the live broadcasts of the trial on radio and television, it is not mentioned in the final statement from the Central Committee.
One prominent Central Committee member, former security minister Mariano Matsinhe,
was brutally frank when "Mediafax" approached him. He said the meeting
did not look in any depth at the murder trial, despite the fact that Nyimpine
Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano, has been repeatedly
mentioned in court, and was obliged to testify. "I should add that the
name of President Chissano does not interest us so much because he is not our
candidate in the next elections", said Matsinhe. "Right now we are
concerned with the name of Armando Guebuza, who is our candidate".
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