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Mozambique12 May 2006

Son of former head of state charged in Cardoso murder case

Reporters Without Borders welcomed as an “important signal” the decision to put Nyimpine Chissano, older son of ex Mozambican president, Joachim Chissano, under investigation in connection with the inquiry into the November 2000 murder of Carlos Cardoso.

The step will allow the justice system to probe the possible implication of the former head of state’s son in the murder of the country’s best known investigative journalist, editor of the daily Metical, who was investigating a massive financial scandal at the time of his death.

"This first judicial step, intended to allay doubt, is an important sign, which means that the Mozambican judicial system has decided to see to it that all possible light is shed on the murder of Carlos Cardoso,” the press freedom organisation said.

“We hail this progress and urge the magistrates to continue their work in a spirit of fairness and independence. The impunity enjoyed by the killers of journalists - of Norbert Zongo in Burkina Faso, of Deyda Hydara in Gambia, to quote only two of them - is a phenomenon that blights Africa. Mozambique must continue to demonstrate that it has decided to become an exemplary exception,” it added.

The Mozambican public ministry on 9 May 2006, put Nyimpine Chissano under investigation for having allegedly been the “moral authority” behind the murder of Carlos Cardoso, for “collusion” and “various economic crimes”.

The office of the prosecutor has sent the charge sheet to the high court in Maputo. A judge will now question the relevant parties before deciding whether the son of the former head of state should appear before a court.

Carlos Cardoso was murdered on 22 November 2000 on Avenue Martires de Machava, in Maputo. He was being driven in his car by a chauffeur when two men blocked the road and opened fire. Cardoso, who was hit by several bullets in the head, died instantly. His driver was seriously injured.

At the time the journalist was investigating the country’s biggest financial scandal since independence, the embezzlement of a sum equal to 14 million euros from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM). He had named highly influential businessmen, the Satar brothers and Vicente Ramaya in his articles.

On 20 January 2006, the head of the commando, Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior, known as “Anibalzinho”, was sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison. During the trial of the main defendants, in January 2003, three of them accused the son of the head of state at the time, of having ordered the murder.

Nyimpine Chisssano, who was called as a witness in the Anibalzinho trial, denied having any dealings with the head of the commando. He also denied any relationship with the Satar brothers. However, it has been established that Momade Assif Abdul Satar, known as "Nini", one of those sentenced for instigating the killing, was in possession of several cheques signed by Nyimpine Chissano just before and just after the murder.

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