Carlos Cardoso's killer in the dock again

A man accused of masterminding the killing of Mozambique’s leading investigative journalist went on trial on Thursday after twice escaping from jail.

Anibal Dos Santos Junior. known here as Anibazinho, was convicted in 2003 of murdering Carlos Cardoso and sentenced to 28 years in prison. But the Supreme Court granted him a retrial because the case was conducted in absentia after he slipped out of a maximum-security prison.

Tightened security measures, including military patrols, were in place when Dos Santos arrived in court on Thursday morning wearing a black prison uniform.

A list of charges was read out, including murder, criminal association, theft and illegal possession and use of a firearm. Dos Santos was not required to enter a plea.

The case has attracted huge interest here and was broadcast live on state television and radio.

Cardoso was investigating the country’s largest banking scandal, in which $14-million was stolen from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique in 1996.

The former owner and editor of the daily Metical newspaper had accused prominent Mozambicans of involvement in the theft before he was gunned down in November 2000. They included a former attorney general, a former Cabinet minister and ex-President Joaquim Chissano’s son, Nyimpine.

Dos Santos first eluded authorities while awaiting trial in 2002, but was caught soon after in neighbouring South Africa and returned to Mozambique. Last year, he escaped again and sought asylum in Toronto, Canada. Authorities there rejected his application and sent him home.

Five alleged accomplices were convicted with Dos Santos in 2003 and sentenced to more than 20-year terms. Two of them fingered Dos Santos as the mastermind of the killing, but it remains unclear who hired them. - Sapa-AP

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