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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 14:59 GMT
Mozambique murder trial begins
Carlos Cardoso
Carlos Cardoso was investigating corruption cases
The trial of six men for the murder of a leading Mozambican journalist, Carlos Cardoso, has started in the capital, Maputo,

One man was reported two months ago to have escaped from prison and will be tried in his absence.

The five other defendants will stand trial inside the top security prison.

People laying flowers at the murder site in Maputo
Cardoso's death shocked Mozambique
The authorities say this is for security reasons, but lawyers for the accused had threatened to boycott the trial unless it is moved to a regular court.

Our Southern Africa correspondent Barnaby Phillips says the murder, and the subsequent investigation, have highlighted the growing corruption in one of Africa's best performing economies.

The murder shocked Mozambique and the trial is being broadcast live on national television.

Despite being held inside prison, with tight security, more than 300 people attended the opening day.

Carlos Cardoso dominated the small world of Mozambican journalism, and led the struggle for press freedom as Mozambique abandoned Marxism and became a multi-party democracy.

A courageous reporter, he was investigating banking scandals two years ago when he was gunned down on a Maputo street.

Cover-up?

At his funeral, President Joaquim Chissano promised that the state would do everything in its power to arrest and bring to trial his killers.

But the investigation has moved at a slow pace.

Maputo
Carlos Cardoso was shot in Maputo nearly two years ago
The suspicion of a cover-up was strengthened in September when one of the alleged assassins escaped, under mysterious circumstances, from Maputo's highest security prison.

The lawyer for the suspect, Anibalzinho, said he might have been killed in jail and said there were reports of bloodstains in his client's cell.

Attorney General Joaquim Madeira described the escape as "a body blow to our judicial system".

The Mozambican police are reported to have stepped up security for the presiding judge in the case.

Judge Augusto Paulino said he will question a former government minister and President Chissano's son in connection with the case, although he has not yet decided to charge them.

The Cardoso family is demanding the equivalent of over $580,000 in compensation from the alleged killers for moral and material damage.

See also:

07 Mar 02 | Africa
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