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Killer of journalist Carlos Cardoso re-arrested after third prison escape

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced relief at the re-arrest on 8 December 2008 of the killer of journalist Carlos Cardoso, 36 hours after he made his third escape from Maputo's high security prison.

Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior, "Anibalzinho", is serving a 30-year-sentence for the November 2000 murder of the investigative journalist, who was the editor of the daily "Metical".

Police arrested the fugitive on the evening of 8 December on the road to Namaacha, 75 kilometres west of the capital Maputo, on the border with Swaziland. He had escaped from his cell the previous morning with the complicity of one or more prison wardens and fled along with two other prisoners.

"It is vital for Carlos Cardoso's family that he serves his full sentence," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "However this is the third time that Anibalzinho has managed to escape, with collusion from within the prison establishment. The Mozambican authorities should take this escape seriously and do their utmost to ensure his accomplices are punished. That will ensure that this unfortunate incident is not repeated."

The journalist's killer escaped for the first time in September 2002 and was recaptured in Pretoria, South Africa, five months later. He succeeded in escaping again on 10 May 2004, before being arrested by Interpol on arrival at Toronto international airport. Anibalzinho was convicted on 20 January 2006 of being the leader of the hit squad that murdered Cardoso and sentenced to 30 years in jail.

Cardoso was shot dead by two gunmen who blocked his route as he was being driven along Martires de Machava Avenue in Maputo on 22 November 2000. He was hit in the head by several bullets and died instantly. Before the murder, he was investigating the country's biggest post-independence financial scandal: the embezzlement of the equivalent of 14 million euros from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM). In his articles, he pointed the finger at three powerful businessmen, Vicente Ramaya and the Satar brothers.

Updates the Cardoso case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/81279

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