New York, November 11, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes the recent decision by Mozambique’s judicial authorities to extend their investigation into the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso to Nymphine Chissano, a son of President Joaquim Chissano.
Cardoso, Mozambique’s leading investigative reporter, was gunned down, execution-style, on November 22, 2000. Six people were arrested in March 2001 for the murder.
Authorities have now extended their probe to include Nymphine Chissano, who has not been charged, said the judge in the case. Nymphine Chissano will be questioned to ascertain whether he could be linked to the killing.
State prosecutors said that the case against Nymphine Chissano arose from allegations made by businessman Momade Assife Abdul Satar and his brother Ayob Abdul that Chissano had attended a meeting during which plans to assassinate Cardoso were discussed. According to the prosecutors, the Satars claim to have served as middlemen in the murder, calling Chissano the actual mastermind of the crime.
The Satar brothers, as well as Vincente Ramaya, a local bank manager, have been in pretrial detention since March 2001, along with two alleged hired hitmen. (Another alleged killer escaped from jail a month ago.( Click here for more information, ) Their trial is now scheduled to open on November 18, according to the state newswire service AIM.
Mozambican authorities maintain that Cardoso was killed for his aggressive coverage of the country’s largest banking scandal, in which the Satar brothers and Ramaya are accused of siphoning US$14 million from the state-run Commercial Bank of Mozambique in 1996.
But CPJ and other critics of the state probe have asked authorities to look into Cardoso’s work about Maputo’s real estate boom and a series of scandals at the private Banco Austral, then run by Nymphine Chissano’s business partner Octavio Muthemba, as well as other subjects he was writing about at the time of his death.
Meanwhile, on November 8, the independent Savana weekly reported that Muthemba would also be interrogated. Muthemba, who is also a former industry minister and head of a scandal-ridden bank, dismissed the Savana report as false.
Cardoso was the founding editor of Metical, a daily business newsletter distributed by fax that was forced to close in December 2001, one year after Cardoso’s death, after Nymphine Chissano filed a crippling criminal defamation lawsuit against the publication’s chief reporter, Marcelo Mosse.
Read CPJ’s May 2002 special report, The Murder of Carlos Cardoso.