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New York, November 27, 2000 –– CPJ condemns last week’s execution-style murder of Carlos Cardoso, editor of the daily fax newsletter Metical, based in the Mozambique capital, Maputo.
According to local and international news reports, the veteran independent journalist was shot dead on the evening of November 22 as he left Metical‘s offices in the Maputo suburb of Polana. After two vehicles cut off Cardoso’s car, two unidentified assassins opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles, killing him instantly and seriously wounding his driver.
The Mozambican government quickly condemned Cardoso’s assassination, and has promised to carry out a full investigation.
“We welcome the Mozambican government’s pledge to bring the murderers to justice, and we urge law-enforcement authorities to pursue their investigation with all possible speed,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We fear that Cardoso died because somebody wanted to silence him.”
Cardoso, 48, was an experienced investigative journalist who had become one of Mozambique’s foremost media personalities. He was internationally acclaimed for his groundbreaking reporting on political corruption and organized crime in Mozambique, a country that is still recovering from a brutal, decades-long civil war.
Earlier in his career, Cardoso served as editor and later director of the Mozambique state news agency AIM, from which he resigned in 1989. Before founding Metical in 1998, Cardoso ran another independent fax newsletter, Mediafax, which he launched in 1992. He sympathized politically with the ruling FRELIMO party, but often lambasted the government in his editorials.
One week before his death, Cardoso started a campaign against what he called the “gangster faction” in FRELIMO, which he accused of provoking recent political violence in the country.
Recently, Metical had been reporting aggressively on alleged wrongdoing at the Mozambique Commercial Bank, according to the London-based anti-censorship organization ARTICLE 19. On the day of Cardoso’s assassination, Radio Mozambique journalist Custadio Rafael was attacked, beaten and had his tongue slashed for “speaking too much,” according to news reports. Rafael had also been investigating the Mozambique Commercial Bank scandal.
Local human rights groups, government officials, and opposition leaders have all condemned the killing. Outside Mozambique, U.S. State Department, the European Union, and several African nations denounced Cardoso’s murder as a serious setback to press freedom in Mozambique.
On November 24, a group of 500 outraged local journalists and citizens marched from the headquarters of the Mozambican Journalists Union (SNJ) in downtown Maputo to the site of Cardoso’s assassination in Polana.