The special court set up to try the killers of Carlos Cardoso announced its verdict on 31 January 2003. The six defendants received jail sentences of between twenty-three and twenty-eight years.
Reporters Without Borders welcomes this verdict, which will help to counter the widespread impunity enjoyed in Africa by those involved in the murders of journalists. "This case shows that impunity is not inexorable in Africa. It is a question of political will and the independence of the judiciary," says Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders. "We hope that this trial will have an impact throughout the continent and that other similar cases, notably in Burkina Faso and Nigeria, will rapidly be given a fair trial," he added.
Reporters Without Borders also calls upon the Mozambican authorities to continue their efforts and pursue their investigations in order to determine the responsibility of all those concerned. The organisation hopes in particular that the investigations that have begun into the possible involvement of Nyimpine Chissano, son of the Mozambican President, will reach a conclusion rapidly.
On 31 January 2003 Momade Abdul Satar was sentenced to 24 years in prison, and Ayob Abdul Satar, Vicente Ramaya, Manuel Fernandes and Carlos Rachid Cassamo to 23 years and 6 months each. All five were convicted of "homicide" in the Cardoso murder case.
A sixth suspect, Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior, better known by his nickname Anibalzinho, was also convicted, in absentia, and sentenced to 28 years in prison with 15 years’ loss of civic rights. Anibalzinho had escaped from Maputo’s top-security prison during the night of 1 September 2002. He was arrested in Pretoria on 30 January by South African police, and is expected to be extradited to Mozambique within the next few days.
On several occasions during the proceedings the suspects accused Nyimpine Chissano, son of Mozambique’s Head of State, of having ordered Cardoso’s murder. From the start of the trial, President Joaquim Chissano stated in public that justice should be done in his country and that the "trial [should] continue" even though his son’s name had been mentioned. Summoned to give evidence before the court on 5 December 2002, Nyimpine Chissano denied any involvement in the murder of Mr Cardoso. At the end of December, Mozambique’s State Prosecutor announced that an investigation into the allegations against Nyimpine Chissano was under way.
The verdict was announced by Judge Augusto Paulino in the courtroom which, for fear of "disturbances to public order", was set up inside the top-security prison itself specially for this trial, which began on 18 November 2002. Journalists were allowed to attend the hearings.
Carlos Cardoso, managing editor of Metical, was murdered on 22 November 2000 on the Avenue Martires de Machava in Maputo. He was in his car with his driver when two men blocked the street and opened fire. Mr Cardoso died instantly from several bullet wounds to the head. His driver was seriously injured. Prior to his death, the journalist had been investigating the disappearance of several million euros from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique. He had, in particular, mentioned in print the names of three businessmen - the Satar brothers and Vicente Ramaya.