Reporters Without Borders today deplored the escape from prison in Maputo of one of the six people accused of murdering Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardoso and called on the authorities to recapture him as soon as possible.
"This is an inexcusable error by the prison service," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to justice minister José Ibraimo Abudo. "This matter has lasted too long. Cardoso was murdered in November 2000. His killers must be tried very soon. This crime must not go unpunished under any circumstances."
Police said the suspect, Anibal Antonio dos Santos Jr. ("Anibalzinho"), escaped from Maputo’s top-security prison late at night on 1 September. He is believed to have been hired to kill Cardoso by one of the brains behind the crime, Momade Abdul Satar.
The inadequacies of the prison service have recently cause concern. Satar was put in solitary confinement last month after a mobile phone was found on him and the weekly Domingo said police knew he was planning an escape.
Cardoso, managing editor of the daily newspaper Metical, was murdered on 22 November 200 on Avenue Martires de Machava, in Maputo, soon after leaving his office for home. Two men stopped his car and opened fire, fatally shooting him in the head and seriously wounding his driver.
Cardoso had been investigating the disappearance of 144 billion meticais (more than seven million euros) from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique. Metical had followed the affair closely, calling for those responsible to be punished and remarking on the absence of any investigation. Cardoso had mentioned in print the names of three businessmen - Satar and his brother Ayob Abdul and Vicente Ramaya.
Six people were charged in the affair in May this year. Ramaya and Ayob Abdul Satar were accused of organising the murder, while Momade Abdul Satar, Anibalzinho and two other people were accused of carrying it out.
Since then, they have been awaiting trial in Maputo’s top-security prison. Before Anibalzinho’s escape, the local media had reported that the trial would start before the end of the year.