INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Mozambique: Anibalzinho Retrial Begins; Defendant

Published: Tue 6 Dec 2005 12:15 PM
VZCZCXRO6233
PP RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR
DE RUEHTO #1569/01 3401215
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061215Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4696
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0443
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 001569
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
AF/S FOR HTREGER
NSC FOR CCOURVILLE
MCC FOR SGAULL
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM KCOR PREL PHUM MZ
SUBJECT: MOZAMBIQUE: ANIBALZINHO RETRIAL BEGINS; DEFENDANT
CLAIMS HE IS INNOCENT
REF: A. MAPUTO 1555
B. MAPUTO 133
MAPUTO 00001569 001.2 OF 002
Summary
-------
1. The retrial of Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"),
the man convicted of leading the hit squad responsible for
the November 2000 assassination of investigative journalist
Carlos Cardoso, began on December 1 in the Maputo City court.
Anibalzinho was previously tried in absentia and, in January
2003, sentenced to 28 and a half years for his involvement in
the murder. In December 2004, the Supreme Court issued a
controversial ruling allowing a retrial based on a
technicality in the law. During testimony on December 1,
Anibalzinho proclaimed his innocence, stating he knew of the
plot but did not take part in it. Media coverage on the
first days of the retrial has been extensive, though public
interest appears to have waned since the original 2002 trial.
End Summary
Background
----------
2. Anibalzinho organized the November 2000 murder of
Mozambique's foremost investigative journalist, Carlos
Cardoso. During the original November 2002 to January 2003
court proceedings, Anibalzinho was tried in absentia since he
remained at large following his September 2002 escape from
Maputo's maximum security prison. He was arrested in South
Africa on January 30, 2003 and deported back to Mozambique
just hours after the judge passed down his 28 and a half year
sentence. Anibalzinho managed a second escape from the same
maximum security facility in May 2004. He was eventually
arrested in Canada and once again deported back to Mozambique
in January 2005, after his request for political asylum was
denied by Canadian authorities (ref B).
3. Five other individuals were sentenced along with
Anibalzinho in 2003, including Manuel Fernandes (the lookout)
and Carlitos Rashid (the trigger man), both of whom pointed
to Anibalzinho as the one who recruited them and drove the
car during the operation. Brothers Nini and Ayob Abdul Satar
and former Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM) manager
Vicente Ramaya were also found guilty and sentenced to more
than 20 years for allegedly ordering the killing because of
Cardoso's investigation into a USD 14 million bank scandal
involving BCM. It remains unclear who ordered the killing,
though testimony in the original trial reportedly implicated
prominent Mozambicans, including the son of then-President
Chissano, Nyimpine Chissano. End Background.
Anibalzinho Gets His Day in Court
---------------------------------
4. In December 2004, the Supreme Court passed down a
controversial decision that overturned the February 2003
denial for a retrial requested by Anibalzinho's lawyer.
Then-presiding judge Augusto Paulino ruled against the
request based on his interpretation of a clause in the Penal
Procedural Code governing retrials for those tried in
absentia (Note: Paulino ruled that because Anibalzinho had
been in jail prior to his court date, he had no right to a
retrial. End note.) Late last year, the Supreme Court
effectively overruled the decision, stating instead that
anyone sentenced in absentia to a prison term of more than
two years should be allowed a retrial (ref B). The retrial,
which began on December 1 at the tenth circuit Maputo City
Court, is reportedly designed to "root out" additional
evidence in the case and will not annul Anibalzinho's
original sentence handed down in 2003. According to
presiding judge Benvinda Levy, the proceedings will include
testimony from at least six men, including Ramaya and
Anibalzinho himself.
5. During an emotional November 22 ceremony marking the 5th
anniversary of the murder, Cardoso family lawyer Lucinda Cruz
stated that the retrial would leave no one untouched and
would serve to uncover exactly who was behind the murder.
Cruz and Helder Matlaba, the lawyer representing Cardoso's
wounded driver, Carlos Manjate, are both seeking compensation
from the accused. The Cardoso family is demanding
MAPUTO 00001569 002.2 OF 002
approximately 14 billion meticais (approx. USD 500,000) in
compensation for Cardoso's two young children. Manjate, who
was shot in the head during the incident and can no longer
work, is seeking 500 million meticais (approx. USD 18,000) in
damages.
6. During this week's testimony, Anibalzinho has proclaimed
his innocence stating that he was aware of the murder plot,
but did not take part in it. He admitted to meeting with the
Satar brothers and Ramaya to discuss a potential "business
deal," though he claimed he did not know the proposition
involved murder. These statements are in direct
contradiction to a taped video confession Anibalzinho sent to
the Maputo City Court during the original 2002-2003
proceedings, in which he confessed to his involvement in the
murder plot.
Comment
-------
7. Press coverage of the first days of the retrial has been
quite extensive, with stories being picked up in both the
local and international press. Expectations were that public
interest would be high; however, the retrial has not yet
seemed to grab the public's full attention. Most observers
have little faith that the trial will succeed in uncovering
the truth behind the murder. With Anibalzinho painting
himself as an innocent car salesman who would never be
involved in theft let alone murder, there is likely even less
hope now that any significant revelations will result from
this retrial.
La Lime
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media