Maputo, 8 Jan (AIM) - The former director of the Maputo branch of the Mozambican Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Antonio Frangoulis, on Wednesday denied attempting to bribe a key witness in the Carlos Cardoso murder trial.
Osvaldo Muianga ("Dudu") has testified to attending three conspiratorial meetings in the Rovuma Hotel in 2000, but he has given several contradictory accounts of these meetings. His initial statement claimed the meetings plotted a second attempt on the life of lawyer Albano Silva (after the first attempt, in November 1999, was botched), but then changed the target, postponing the assassination of Silva in favour of murdering "the second inconvenience", Carlos Cardoso.
In early 2002 Muianga retracted this statement, only to retract the retraction a few months later. When he testified in court in December, he insisted that the Hotel Rovuma meetings took place, but only discussed plans for murdering Albano Silva.
He has been consistent in placing each of the men accused of murdering Cardoso, former bank manager Vicente Ramaya, loan shark Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini"), and his brother Ayob Abdul Satar at at least one of the meetings.
But Muianga also claimed that Frangoulis had instructed him not to recognise Ramaya when they were confronted, and to switch the venue of the meetings from the hotel to the house of businessman Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano. For the latter service, Frangoulis allegedly promised him "$5,000 or $10,000", to be paid via Ramaya's lawyer, Abdul Gani.
Recalled to the witness stand on Wednesday, Frangoulis, who was in charge of the police investigation into the Cardoso murder, denied both claims. He noted that Muianga had changed the venue for their supposed conversation twice. Initially, he said Frangoulis told him in the car, on the way to the top security prison, not to recognise Ramaya.
Then he changed the story and said the discussion was in a corridor inside the jail. Frangoulis said neither of these venues was possible - because in neither place would the two have been alone. "So he changed his mind again, and said I talked to him at Kaya-Kwanga (a Maputo hotel PIC has frequently used for interrogations)", added Frangoulis.
Muianga's contradictory versions of the time and place of this supposed talk indicate that it never happened, said Frangoulis.
As for persuading Muianga to switch the venue of the conspiracy to Nyimpine Chissano's house, this "makes no sense", said Frangoulis.
He pointed out that it was in late November 2001 that, during an interview in the prison, Nini Satar had told him of conspiratorial meetings plotting the murder of former customs chief Pedro Bule, and Carlos Cardoso, which were held in the house, not of Nyimpine, but of his acquaintance, businesswoman Candida Cossa. Chissano Jr was supposedly one of those attending these meetings.
Frangoulis had passed on this information to his superiors, including Interior Minister Almerino Manhenje, to the state security service (SISE), and to someone completely outside the state structures, the Cardoso family lawyer, Lucinda Cruz. He said he had informed Cruz of Satar's claims "so that, if somebody were to shoot me, at least the information would still be known".
"So it would have made no sense for me, in January 2002, to have told Dudu to change the venue of the meetings to Nyimpine's house", Frangoulis told the court. "Dudu should explain who is manipulating him and why".
Frangoulis said that on 25 January 2002, Muianga's mother, Fatima Razak, contacted him to say that she was being harassed "by somebody connected to Nini to persuade Dudu to change his statement". He then spoke to Razak and Muianga about this question five days later.
But at no time had he ever offered a bribe to Muianga. "This just looks like an attempt to damage professionally and politically the person who led the investigation", said Frangoulis.
When Muianga was brought in to testify again, he repeated all his earlier claims against Frangoulis, insisting that the PIC director had wanted him to change his statement so that the conspiratorial meetings took place in Nyimpine Chissano's house.
When Muianga did retract his statement, he eliminated all reference to meetings, and said that his initial statement was made at the request of Gary Rouper, former manager of the Polana Casino, who allegedly owed large sums to Nini Satar.
There is a question mark over when Muianga signed this retraction. The document bears the date of 10 January 2002 - but this is either a mistake, or a deliberate falsification. For if Muianga had retracted his statement on 10 January, there would have been no point in discussing possible changes to it with Frangoulis three weeks later.
The retraction was not reported in the press until 23 March.
Furthermore cheques from Nini Satar's sister, Rachida, to Muianga's mother, totalling 1.68 million meticais (about $70,000 ), which look like payment for the retraction, are dated February and March 2002. All this points to a date for the retraction of late February or early March.
Muianga told the court on Wednesday that he had never received anything for his retraction - but he admitted that money may have been paid to his mother.
Muianga also insisted that the meetings in the Rovuma hotel had indeed happened. He recalled that his one-time friend Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the fugitive accused of organising the death squad that murdered Cardoso, had been reluctant to attend the third meeting.
"So many meetings just to kill one person", Anibalzinho supposedly remarked to Muianga.
At the insistence of the defence lawyers, Ramaya, and the two Satar brothers, one by one, faced Dudu, and denied ever attending meetings in the Rovuma.
"Once again Dudu is lying to the court. He's constantly lying", exclaimed Nini Satar. Ayob and Ramaya insisted that the only part of the Rovuma they had ever visited was the shopping centre on the ground floor.
Muianga (who, like the Satars and Ramaya, claims to be a moslem) swore by Allah that he was telling the truth, and that the Rovuma meetings had occurred.
Maputo, 8 Jan (AIM) - A witness in the Carlos Cardoso murder trial on Wednesday recalled how Osvaldo Muianga ("Dudu") had once accused Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho") of "devouring all the money" paid for the murder.
This witness, Luis Matusse, said he had been on friendly terms with Muianga from September 2000 to January 2001, and that Muianga had introduced him to Anibalzinho.
(Muianga who has testified twice so far in the trial has admitted to being part of the same criminal network as Anibalzinho, and of attending meetings at which murder was planned. He is one of those charged with the attempted murder of lawyer Albano Silva in 1999.) But relations between Muianga and Anibalzinho soured in early 2001, and when Muianga learnt, from the Sunday paper "Domingo", that Anibalzinho had been arrested in Swaziland (in February 2001), he exclaimed to Matusse "That's excellent ! He devoured all the money for himself".
The money in question was 150 million meticais (about $6,300) which Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini"), one of those charged with ordering Cardoso's murder, had sent to Anibalzinho via Muianga in September 2000.
Muianga described the money as "fuel for the operations", but did not tell Matusse what "operations" he had in mind.
Matusse assumed that Muianga was annoyed with Anibalzinho because he thought that, as the courier, he deserved a share of the money.
Matusse said "I didn't think Dudu was being honest with me", and even described Muianga as "a snake".
Matusse testified on Wednesday in order to expunge his perjury of 11 December. Then he had told the court virtually nothing, playing down everything that he had claimed, during the preliminary investigations, to know about Anibalzinho and Muianga. The presiding judge, Augusto Paulino, ordered his detention for perjury, and this seems to have jogged Matusse's memory. His Wednesday testimony is in line with what he told prosecutors earlier.
But Matusse only spent ten days in jail, before his lawyer managed to persuade a lower court to release him until a trial for "false declarations", set for 12 January.
Judge Paulino was not amused. "It is this court that should have ordered your release", he told Matusse. "The case hasn't even finished. This is a very serious matter".
He ordered court officials to find out from the court in Maputo urban district
number one the exact justification for releasing Matusse.
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