New York, September 3, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is gravely concerned about the recent escape from maximum-security detention of Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior, better known as Anibalzinho, a leading suspect in the murder of Mozambican investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso.
A police spokesperson yesterday confirmed to reporters and to the Cardoso family that Anibalzinho had vanished from his prison cell in the capital, Maputo, on Sunday night, September 1.
Anibalzinho was arrested in March 2001, along with five other men, on charges of first-degree murder. All other suspects remain in detention, according to Mozambican police. Judge Augusto Paulino was expected to set a trial date in the coming weeks, according to the Mozambican newswire agency, AIM.
“We urge Mozambique’s leaders to ensure that the fugitive is speedily arrested,” said Ann Cooper, CPJ executive director, “and that preparations begin for a fair and public trial.”
In March 2001, after a botched investigation, police concluded that Cardoso was murdered for his reporting on a 1996 money-laundering scandal at the state-run Commercial Bank of Mozambique.
In July 2001, CPJ sent a delegation to Maputo to conduct an inquiry into the state’s investigation of the murder case. The delegation found that in the wake of Cardoso’s killing, Mozambican news reporters are afraid to cover sensitive stories involving corruption, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Many sources familiar with the case, believe that Cardoso was murdered because his reporting uncovered a pattern of criminal corruption involving government officials.
CPJ presents report to ambassador
On May 21, 2002, CPJ presented a special report, titled “The Murder of Carlos Cardoso,” to Mozambique’s ambassador to the United States, with a set of recommendations to the authorities. [Click here for a copy of the report.]
The report exposed several flaws in the police investigation, including the disappearance of the sole eyewitness. Despite repeated requests from CPJ, Mozambican authorities have so far failed to respond to the report’s findings.