Mozambique News Agency

Carlos Cardoso murder trial update 29 November

Lawyer protests, judge overrules

Maputo, 29 Nov (AIM) - Friday's session of the Carlos Cardoso murder trial at the Maputo City Court was delayed by a formal protest at the treatment of the five accused.

Defence lawyer Simeao Cuamba said that it was "shocking" and "inhuman" that on Thursday the accused had been brought into the court room in handcuffs.

"There are enough police to guarantee protection here", he said. "The police should take the handcuffs off outside".

The presiding judge, Augusto Paulino, found it strange that this protest should come from Cuamba, since the man he is defending, Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), has not entered the court room at all, with or without handcuffs.

Anibalzinho, who is accused of recruiting the death squad that murdered Cardoso and of driving their car, was illegally freed by persons unknown from the Maputo top security jail on 1 September, and is believed to have fled the country.

"I see no problem in the accused entering the court room in handcuffs", said Paulino. "Nobody claims that just because a person is handcuffed, he has already been tried and sentenced".

Paulino noted that at the start of the trial the accused had marched in jauntily, smiling, shaking hands with their lawyers, and "acting as if this is just a show".

He was determined to end such behaviour. "These are preventive measures", said Paulino. "It was necessary to discipline the accused. I have had to keep reminding the accused about their deportment, since they keep on smiling, as if this case was nothing serious".

"I see nothing in the law which says that the accused cannot enter court in handcuffs", he declared. "In some countries, the accused are put in cages".

Frangoulis denies house arrest

Maputo, 29 Nov (AIM) - The former head of the Maputo branch of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Antonio Frangoulis, on Friday denied that he had ever placed the brothers Ayob and Momade Assife Abdul Satar under house arrest.

The Satars are among the six people accused of murdering Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on 22 November 2000. Momade Satar ("Nini") has repeatedly claimed that Frangoulis was party to a plot to extort a million US dollars from him, and this was the real reason for his arrest in March 2001. He alleges that in early March, Frangoulis came to the Satar house with one of the alleged extortioners, a man named Jawed, and ordered that they two brothers could not leave the premises.

Frangoulis told the court that Jawed was used as a go- between. "When my colleagues said we had to distract the Satars, we used Jawed", he said. "And Jawed was the person the Satars used to contact us".

PIC was worried that the Satars might realise they were suspects, and might attempt to flee the country. But the PIC response, Frangoulis said, was not to decree house arrest, but to keep the two brothers under surveillance.

Two police vehicles, with plain clothes officers, were kept parked outside the Satars' house, one pointing in each direction, and were to follow either of the brothers whenever they left. If they made for the South African or Swazi border, they were to be stopped there.

Ayob Satar's lawyer, Domingos Arouca, claimed that on that very night in March 2001, he had tried to visit the house, only to be stopped by police officers who told him that, on the orders of Frangoulis, nobody was allowed to enter or leave.

Frangoulis denied this, and pointed out that Ayob Satar's company, the Unicambios foreign exchange bureau, was also under surveillance, which would have made no sense if the two brothers were unable to leave the house.

He thought Arouca was confusing the initial police surveillance with the arrest of the two brothers a few days later. Then uniformed police officers were indeed put on the door with instructions not to let anyone in, in order to ensure that there could be no tampering with any evidence.

Much of the day's session was taken up with accusations from the defence lawyers that the initial confession to the crime from Manuel Fernandes ("Escurinho") had been forced out of him by police threats.

Judge Augusto Paulino did not see how this line of questioning could be at all productive. Fernandes was on record as confessing to taking part in the crime, and then retracting his confession. But when he was interrogated in court last week, he freely confessed for a second time (albeit with some details that were different from the first confession).

But the lawyers insisted, and Paulino admitted questions on the matter to both Frangoulis and to Joaquim Dungano, the PIC officer who had first interrogated Fernandes.

Frangoulis categorically denied taking Fernandes away from the prison to threaten him at night at the Costa do Sol beach, or in Boane district, to the west of the city. Apart from visiting the crime scene with Fernandes (when he helped the police reconstruct the murder), the only times Frangoulis had taken him out of the prison were in March 2001 to Matola in an attempt to identify the house of Carlitos Rashid, the man who fired the shots that took Cardoso's life.

Fernandes said he knew where Rashid lived, but when Frangoulis took him there at night, he was unable to identify the house. Only the following day, in broad daylight, was Fernandes able to tell Frangoulis exactly where Rashid lived.

Dungano also denied using any force or threats against Fernandes. He said that during the interrogation, Fernandes initially denied all knowledge of the murder, and "replied vaguely, talking of matters not related to the case".

But PIC already had evidence tying Fernandes to the crime, "As the discussion continued, we let it slip that we had evidence linking him to the murder", said Dungano, "and eventually he told us he was willing to confess.

"He said he was afraid of reprisals from his fellow accused, and asked to be transferred to another prison", said Dungano.

"There was no torture of any sort", he said. "It's not true that we took him out of the prison".

Furthermore, the legal requirements were satisfied.

Fernandes had not told PIC whether he had a lawyer, and so PIC appointed one of its own officers as an "official defender".

These proceedings dragged on for much longer than necessary since several of the defence lawyers seemed unfamiliar with the case file. They irritated the judge by raising questions, the answers to which are contained in the case file.

The file is extremely long, running to many thousands of pages. But lawyers are paid to master such files. Paulino pointed out that they should have had thorough knowledge of the case before the trial started.

More cheques from Nyimpine Chissano

Maputo, 29 nov (AIM) - Maputo loan shark Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini"), one of those accused of murdering Mozambique's best-known journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on Friday handed over to the Maputo City Court three more cheques, signed by Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano.

Last week, Satar had given the court four uncashed cheques from Chissano Jr, each for 165 million meticais (about 6,930 US dollars).

Satar's defence is that he paid for the murder, but did not realise that the money was being used for a contract killing. He claims that Nyimpine Chissano asked him for a loan of 1.2 billion meticais - but the money was to be given, not to Nyimpine, but to Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the man accused of organising the death squad that murdered Cardoso. Satar admits making four separate payments to Anibalzinho.

Chissano Jr was to repay the money with a series of post- dated cheques for 1.29 billion meticais. Since the cheques fell due between 24 October 2000 and 30 January 2001, one can work out that the extra 90 million meticais, which Satar describes as his "commission", is in fact an interest rate of over 45 per cent p.a.

Satar claimed that most of the money was never repaid: he says Nyimpine asked him not to cash the cheques, because he was in "financial difficulties".

As with the earlier cheques, the ones presented on Monday were all drawn on an account held at the cooperative bank Credicoop by Nyimpine Chissano's company, Expresso Tours. In the signature, the surname "Chissano" can be seen clearly.

Two of the cheques are for 165 million meticais and the third for 300 million. Taken together, the seven cheques do indeed total 1.29 billion meticais.

Two of the cheques indicate no payee, but the third is made out to a man named Tarmomede Vali Mahamed. Satar said he had given the cheque to Vali to be cashed - but when he contacted Nyimpine, the latter told him to recover the cheque and he would pay in notes instead. "So Vali returned the cheque, and I gave him cash", said Satar.

All three cheques had been partially redeemed by Nyimpine, Satar claimed, and he had kept a note on the back of the cheques as to how much money was still owing - five million meticais on one, 8.78 million on a second, and 18 million on the third (the one made out to Vali Mahamed).

According to Satar, Nyimpine Chissano had not redeemed anything at all from the four cheques presented in evidence last week.

As the judge has repeatedly complained, it is extremely difficult to understand Satar's financial transactions. No doubt the difficulty is deliberate, since he is an unlicensed and entirely illegal money-lender.

Nyimpine Chissano himself can certainly throw some light on the matter. He has been subpoenaed, and will be obliged to give evidence later in the trial.

Nyimpine Chissano's company has no licenecd

Maputo, 29 Nov (AIM) - The travel agency and car hire company Expresso tours, owned by Nyimpine Chissano, oldest son of Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, has no licence and is thus operating illegally, according to a report in Friday's issue of the independent weekly "Savana".

The report cited a source in the Maputo commercial registry office, who said the company was initially registered in the names of Mohamed Harif and Zubaida Ahmed through a provisional licence which expired on 13 February 1997.

The Ministry of Justice was informed of this, but no steps were taken to legalise the company.

"Savana"'s source said that senior officials in the ministry were well aware that the licence had expired long ago, but nothing was done because "great people" are involved in running Expresso Tours.

Its lack of proper legal status has not stopped Expresso Tours from regularly hiring out vehicles for conferences and government functions.

The result of this situation is that the company is not even registered in the name of its current owner.

Expresso Tours can renew its licence whenever it chooses, said the "Savana" source. The cost of renewal would be 3.5 million meticais (about 150 US dollars).

"Savana" tried to obtain comment from Expresso tours, without success. The company official who spoke to the paper said her director was absent, and asked "What's the fact that the licence has expired got to do with ''Savana''?"

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