Journalist Carlos Cardoso: "Mozambique's leading investigative journalist."
afrol News, 25 January - Mozambique's most prominent and wanted criminal, the killer of star journalist Carlos Cardoso, "Anibalzinho", has been returned from Canada to Mozambique. The convicted killer escaped from a high-security prison in Maputo in May 2004, and will now face a new trial in the November 2000 slaying.
Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior, better known as "Anibalzinho", has now been deported from Canada, where his petition for refugee status was turned down in December 2004. He arrived in Mozambique on Saturday, and was being held at police headquarters in the capital, Maputo, according to the state-run 'AIM' news agency and local sources.
"Anibalzinho" escaped from a high-security prison in Maputo in May 2004 but was captured later that month at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. While his refugee petition was pending, Mozambican authorities requested the extradition of "Anibalzinho" from Canada. The two countries have no extradition treaty, slowing the process of returning the suspect.
It was not the first time "Anibalzinho" had escaped custody. After fleeing pre-trial detention in September 2002, he was convicted in absentia of murder and sentenced to 28 years in prison. He was captured in South Africa in January 2003 and extradited to Mozambique, where he was serving his term until his second escape.
In December 2004, Mozambique's Supreme Court ruled that "Anibalzinho" was entitled to a retrial. The Maputo court ruled that a defendant who is convicted in absentia and sentenced to more than two years - including an escapee - is entitled to a new trial when he re-emerges. No date has been set for the retrial, according to local sources. The five co-defendants of "Anibalzinho" were convicted.
"Anibalzinho" has been found to be the one carrying out the killing of editor Carlos Cardoso, following the orders of influential Mozambican business leaders. Mr Cardoso was Mozambique's leading investigative journalist at the time of his death, and was covering a 1996 corruption scandal involving the state-controlled Commercial Bank of Mozambique.
During their trial, several of those accused of involvement in Mr Cardoso's murder said that Nyimpine Chissano, a son of outgoing President Joaquim Chissano, had ordered the assassination. A separate investigation into Nyimpine Chissano's involvement was launched in January 2003, but no developments have been publicly announced. Mr Chissano has categorically denied the charges.
The return of "Anibalzinho" to Mozambican soil was today welcomed by leading international press freedom organisations, who have closely monitored the developments in the Cardoso case since November 2000.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today called for "the prompt prosecution and secure detention" of "Anibalzinho". His two earlier escapes from high security prisons are widely seen as the result of bribery of prison officers.
- CPJ welcomes the news that Anibalzinho has been returned to jail in Mozambique, said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. "We urge Mozambican authorities to ensure that 'Anibalzinho' remains in secure custody, and that his retrial is impartial and transparent," Ms Cooper added.
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