- Media organisations and Mozambicans at large are shocked over the second escape from prison by "Anibalzinho", the convicted killer of Mozambique's star reporter Carlos Cardoso. "Anibalzinho" on Monday escaped Maputo's high security prison, creating renewed speculations over his alleged high-ranking accomplices.
Mozambican police so far have offered no details about the escape of Anibal Antonio dos Santos, commonly known as "Anibalzinho". He had previously escaped Maputo's high security prison in September 2002, before being recaptured in South Africa on the same day he was sentenced to 28 years in prison for Mr Cardoso's murder.
Three senior Mozambican police officers have by now been arrested in connection with the escape, according to the Mozambican Ministry of the Interior. The government further has asked for the help of regional police and Interpol to catch "Anibalzinho".
"Anibalzinho" had been aided by police officers as he escaped in 2002, but it remains unknown who paid the bribes making the escape possible. Person in the highest political and business circles of Mozambique have been put in connection with the hiring of "Anibalzinho" to kill Mr Cardoso and the following escapes of the convicted killer.
The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) today emphasised on these rumours of powerful accomplices. RSF claims the Mozambican "authorities' complicity" is now suspected as the killer of Mr Cardoso escapes for a second time.
RSF today expressed "shock" over police reports of "Anibalzinho's" escape on 10 May. "There can no longer be any doubt that he has high-ranking accomplices," the group said. "This is unacceptable. The Mozambique authorities, who have expressed their commitment to eliminating impunity, must do everything possible to capture him and track down those responsible for his escape," RSF added.
According to the group, this escape confirmed the theory "that one or more of the individuals who ordered Cardoso's murder remain at large." RSF has done its own investigation into the highly profiled case and concluded earlier that "This case is far from being resolved."
Mr Cardoso, editor of the daily 'Metical', was killed on 22 November 2000 while riding along Avenue Martires de Machava in Maputo. He was in the car with his chauffeur when two men blocked their path and opened fire. Mr Cardoso, who was shot several times in the head, died instantly. His chauffeur was seriously injured.
Before his death, Mr Cardoso had been investigating the country's biggest financial scandal since independence, which involved the embezzlement of the equivalent of 14 million euros (US $16 million) from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM). His reports implicated the powerful businessmen Momade Abdul Satar, his brother Ayob Abdul Satar and Vicente Ramaya.
On 31 January 2003, a special court established in Maputo to try Mr Cardoso's killers delivered its verdict. Momade Abdul Satar was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Ayob Abdul Satar, Vicente Ramaya, Manuel Fernandes and Carlos Rashid Cassamo each received 23 and-a-half year terms. They were all found guilty of "homicide". "Anibalzinho" was sentenced to 28 years in prison and a 15-year privation of his civil rights.
On several occasions during the trial, two of the accused named Nyimpine Chissano, the son of the Mozambican President, as having ordered the murder of Mr Cardoso.
In December 2002, State Attorney General Joaquim Madeira announced that a new investigation had been opened to determine if Nyimpine Chissano was involved in the case. In November 2003, during an RSF mission to the country, Mr Madeira told one of the group's representatives that the investigation was "closer to the end than the beginning."
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