Maputo, 28 Nov (AIM) - The murder of Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, was plotted at meetings where Nyimpine Chissano, oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano, was present, according to notes that the former head of the Maputo branch of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Antonio Frangoulis, took of a conversation he held with one of the accused, Maputo money-lender Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini").
Frangoulis told the Maputo City Court on Thursday that he had spoken to Satar, at the latter's request, in the top security prison, on 28 November 2001, and Satar had revealed the names of those who ordered the murder.
Initially Frangoulis was reluctant to reveal details of this conversation, even when the judge, Augusto Paulino, ordered him to do so. "My family has no protection", he said. "I would rather that he (Satar) speak first, and I will confirm what he says or not".
Interrogated last week, Satar had already implicated Chissano Jr, saying that, at the request of Chissano, he had made payments to Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the leader of the death squad that murdered Cardoso.
Now Paulino asked him whether he had mentioned anyone else to Frangoulis, and Satar claimed the only name he had mentioned was that of Nyimpine.
Frangoulis retorted "There's a moral obligation on Nini to tell the court of the meetings he knew about, who was there, and where they were held".
But since Satar refused to do so, he would reveal the content of their discussion. Reaching for his notes from the November 2001 meeting, Frangoulis said Nini had spoken of a meeting in June or July 2000 held in the house of Maria Candida Cossa, an associate of Nyimpine Chissano, and one of the people who owed large sums to the crippled Austral Bank.
Those present were Cossa, Nyimpine, Satar and a man named Nanai Pateguana. The discussion focused on murder, but the target was not Cardoso. The conspirators wanted to eliminate the head of the government's customs restructuring unit, Pedro Bule, who was making life tough for smugglers, and had a major dispute with Nyimpine Chissano.
According to Frangoulis's notes, Satar had also claimed that Nyimpine and Octavio Muthemba, the chairman of the Austral Bank board, wanted to kill Austral financial director, Koojambu Mugathan, who had been appointed by the Malaysian majority shareholders in the bank.
Mugathan had requested the auditing company KPMG to look into the Austral credit portfolio, which was in a disastrous state, with mountains of bad debt. The Malaysians had become tired of their Mozambican partners authorising loans with no guarantee of repayment.
The KPMG report, delivered in January 2001, listed non-performing loans. Among them were loans for almost three billion meticais (200,000 US dollars at the exchange rate of the time) owed by Candida Cossa, and over 296 million meticais owed by Nyimpine Chissano.
But the plotters' priority, according to Satar, was to eliminate Pedro Bule. The assassination was to be carried out in South Africa by "the soldiers of Anibalzinho".
The payment for the killing, discussed over two meetings, was set first at 200,000 dollars, then fell to a million rands (about 100,000 dollars at current exchange rates, rather more in 2000). Anibalzinho was dispatched to South Africa to plan the killing along with a South African named as Rui Hosten.
But Bule returned to Maputo unexpectedly because of the death of his son, and the attention of the plotters switched to Carlos Cardoso. Satar told Frangoulis that, at a September meeting in Cossa's house, Nyimpine expressed his anger at articles in Cardoso's paper "Metical" concerning himself and other members of the Chissano family, particularly one concerning the former Chinese embassy. The embassy had moved, and the building was up for sale - it was believed that Nyimpine Chissano was attempting to acquire it.
The "Metical" article, however, was not even written by Cardoso. A former "Metical" reporter told AIM, "They think that because Cardoso was the editor, he wrote everything in the paper". According to Satar, mediated through Frangoulis's notes, Cossa declared "We must stop the Pedro Bule operation and eliminate Carlos Cardoso". For murdering Cardoso, Nyimpine was allegedly willing to pay over two billion meticais.
Satar told Frangoulis that on the same day he went to Nanai Pataguana's house, to receive 400,000 dollars from a man named Abassamo which was to be transferred to Nyimpine Chissano's London account.
After the murder, at a further meeting in Cossa's house, Anibalzinho admitted that he had used Mozambican assassins to kill Cardoso, rather than the South Africans he had promised to recruit. According to Satar, Nyimpine then gave Anibalzinho 45,000 dollars as payment to "eliminate" the other members of the hit squad (Carlitos Rashid and Manuel Fernandes).
If this account is true, it was another instruction that Anibalzinho disobeyed, since Rashid and Fernandes are alive, and have made full confessions implicating Nyimpine Chissano.
When Paulino asked Frangoulis why he had revealed none of this earlier, he said "I informed my superiors, and their sensitivity to the matter was different from mine". Satar kept promising Frangoulis proof, claiming for instance that tapes of the meetings existed. Satar was reluctant to tell him where these tapes were since they incriminated him as well.
Frangoulis persisted, but "when I thought I was going to get the proof, I got the sack instead". (Frangoulis was removed from his job inexplicably in July this year.) Paulino was irritated that this was the first he had heard of Frangoulis's notes. "All this evidence should have been provided to the court", he said. "The court is not afraid".
Asked to comment, Momade Satar claimed that not everything in the notes was a true account of his talk with Frangoulis. In particular, he insisted that he had not taken part in the meetings at Candida Cossa's house. Instead, he had heard about them from Anibalzinho.
"I just talked with Frangoulis about what I had heard in the prison", said Satar.
Anibalzinho was angered when Satar told him of the meeting with Frangoulis. "You'll get a nasty surprise", he told him.
The "surprise", Satar said, was that a few days later, "Frangoulis was barred from entering this prison". If this detail is true, it is another indication of the enormous influence Anibalzinho wielded inside the prison and among the police.
Anibalzinho also told Satar that "he had no intention of going on trial, he only wanted to get out of the prison. He said that ''they'' (he mentioned no names) had promised to get him out, and if he appeared in court, there would be ''a greater scandal''".
Sure enough, on 1 September Anibalzinho disappeared from the top security prison, when all three padlocks on his cell door were unlocked for him.
Maputo, 28 Nov (AIM) - Although prisoners are banned from using mobile phones, those accused of murdering Mozambican journalists Carlos Cardoso still have no difficulty in acquiring phones and ringing up whoever they like.
Antonio Frangoulis, former head of the Maputo branch of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), on Thursday told the Maputo City Court that he had received two phone calls on 19 November, the day after the trial started, from one of the accused, Maputo money-lender Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini").
He had taped the calls and they were played in court. In the calls made at 07.45 and 08.17 that morning, Satar said "I had nothing to do with the murder of Carlos Cardoso. I only paid out the money".
"Those who committed the crime know who ordered it", he said, before telling Frangoulis that "Anibalzinho has three cassettes and was willing to hand them over".
Anibalzinho (Anibal dos Santos Junior) led the death squad that murdered Cardoso, and was illicitly freed from prison on 1 September. The cassettes are believed to be of meetings that planned the execution.
Frangoulis wondered whether it was worth listening to anything Satar said. "I've had so many different versions from you and from the others", he said.
"The true version is what I've told you", Satar insisted. "I have the cheques and they're signed". This presumably refers to cheques apparently signed by Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano, and which Satar presented to the court last week. His story is that these cheques were issued by Chissano Jr to cover a short term loan of 1.2 billion meticais (about 50,000 US dollars) that he requested from Satar. Satar says he paid this money, not to Chissano, but to Anibalzinho, unaware of the purpose of the payment.
In the phone call Satar also remarked "You remember I told you it was not only Carlos Cardoso but also Pedro Bule (head of the government's customs restructuring unit) who was to be killed", and claimed that those who ordered the murder, in August 2001, of Antonio Siba-Siba Macuacua, the interim chairman of the Austral Bank, "are the same people who ordered the assassination of Cardoso".
The presiding judge, Augusto Paulino, asked Satar if he had made these calls, and Satar confirmed that the tape was authentic.
But where had the mobile phone he used came from ? "I asked a policeman to lend me one", said Satar.
"What's this policeman's name ?", demanded Paulino.
"I can't remember", said Satar.
This confirms claims made earlier in the week of a racket in the prison whereby policemen rent out mobile phones to inmates for 100,000 meticais an hour, or 300,000 meticais a day. Indeed, the whole purpose of such calls may be to issue a chilling reminder that in reality it is the Abdul Satar crime family and their associates, and not the Mozambican state, who control the top security prison.
Maputo, 28 Nov (AIM) - Carlos Manjate, the driver of murdered Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardoso, on Thursday gave the Maputo city court his version of the assassination.
He said that, on the day of the murder, the last person to speak to Cardoso at the office of his paper "Metical" was one of his cousins. Cardoso walked with his cousin Dalila to her car, bade her farewell, and then set off behind her in the "Metical" Toyota, driven by Manjate, taking his normal route home.
Manjate recalls Cardoso talking to him about his cousin and their grandparents. In the mirror he saw a car approaching them at great speed, but assumed it merely intended to overtake them.
Suddenly the car drew up level to the Toyota, a shot was fired, and hit Manjate in the head. He lost consciousness, and so did not hear the next volley of shots that took Cardoso's life.
Manjate was certain that only one car was pursuing them, thus contradicting versions of some witnesses that two cars were involved in the ambush.
He was also certain that the shot which hit him was the first one fired. The two confessed assassins, Carlitos Rashid and Manuel Fernandes, however, both claimed in their testimony, that the driver of the car, Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), fired in the air with a pistol first, as a signal to start the ambush.
Manjate said the evening light was still good enough to see that the car was driven by "a man of mixed race", while the passenger sitting next to him, whom he believed had opened fire, was black.
Anibalzinho's lawyer, Simeao Cuamba, pounced on this, and claimed it contradicted what Manjate had said during the police investigation. (One of the oddities of this trial is that, although Anibalzinho is a fugitive, who disappeared from the prison and fled the country on 1 September, his lawyer is continuing to represent him. When AIM asked Cuamba how he was being paid, he declined to reply.) Cuamba said that Manjate had earlier described the driver as "a light-skinned black man" ("negro claro" in the original Portuguese). (The importance of this distinction is that, whereas the other two members of the death squad are black, Anibalzinho is of mixed race.) "I can't say whether it was a very light-skinned black or a mulatto", replied Manjate. "But I'm sure he was much lighter than the person sitting next to him".
The public prosecutor then read out extracts from the earlier proceedings which showed that the main point Manjate had always made was the contrast between the skin colour of the two people in the front of the car. Manjate also told the court that today, two years after the attack, he is unable to work. He can no longer drive a car, walks with difficulty, and feels generally weak.
He is demanding damages of 500 million meticais (about 21,000 US dollars) from his attackers.
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