CPJ welcomes second conviction of Carlos Cardoso’s killer

New York, January 20, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed a conviction today by a Mozambican court in the murder of Carlos Cardoso but called on authorities to pursue those behind the killing of Mozambique’s leading investigative reporter.

A court in the capital, Maputo, convicted Anibal dos Santos Jr. for the second time of recruiting Cardoso’s killers. Dos Santos, better known as Anibalzinho, was sentenced to almost 30 years in prison. The conviction ended a two-month retrial. Anibalzinho, who escaped twice from custody, was convicted in absentia in 2003 of involvement in the 2000 murder. Anibalzinho, who has Portuguese citizenship, successfully appealed to the Supreme Court in December 2004 for a retrial.

“This conviction and stiff sentence send a clear message that those who murder journalists will not go unpunished,” said Ann Cooper, CPJ’s executive director. “Mozambican authorities must now ensure that Anibalzinho serves the full term of his sentence, and must continue with the investigation to ensure that all those responsible are brought to justice.”

The court ordered Anibalzinho to pay 14 billion meticals (US$584,000) in damages to Cardoso’s family and 1.5 billion meticals (US$62,500) in damages to Cardoso’s driver, who was severely injured in the attack, according to news reports. Judge Dima Marroa ordered Anibalzinho to be deported from Mozambique upon completion of the sentence, The Associated Press reported.

Fernando Lima, a close colleague and friend of Cardoso’s, told CPJ that local journalists were pleased with the verdict. However, he said journalists were concerned that Anibalzinho might escape again because of lax prison security. The trial judge rejected a prosecution request for Anibalzinho to serve out his sentence in Portugal.

Cardoso founded the press organization Mediacoop in 1992, and later launched fax newsletter Metical of which he was editor at the time of his death. He was shot dead while covering a 1996 corruption scandal involving the state-controlled Commercial Bank of Mozambique.

Anibalzinho was first convicted and sentenced to 28-1/2 years in jail in January 2003, along with five co-defendants who are currently serving out lengthy prison terms. During the initial trial, several of the suspects claimed that Nyimpine Chissano, son of then-President Joaquim Chissano, had ordered the assassination.

Lima told CPJ that an investigation into Nyimpine Chissano’s alleged involvement, launched in early 2003, was still ongoing despite little public progress. Nyimpine Chissano, who testified at the retrial, has denied any involvement.

Anibalzinho first escaped from prison while awaiting trial in September 2002. He was re-captured in South Africa and returned to Mozambique, only to escape a second time in May 2004. He was then arrested in Canada, and returned to Mozambique in January 2005.

For more information on Cardoso, see CPJ’s archive of special coverage: