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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 16:06 GMT
Heavy jail terms for Mozambique murder
Carlos Cardoso
Cardoso was investigating a huge banking scandal
Six men found guilty of killing an investigative journalist in Mozambique have been given jail sentences of up to 29 years.

I think the punishments were correct. I am happy

Nina Berg
Carlos Cardoso's widow
The mastermind of the plot to kill Carlos Cardoso in November 2000, Anibal dos Santos, was tried in his absence after escaping from prison in September.

Mr dos Santos, known as Anibalzinho was arrested in South Africa on Thursday, and police there say he will be extradited to Mozambique.

Some of the other five defendants have implicated the son of President Joaquim Chissano in what the judge called Mozambique's "worst-ever crime".

The murder and subsequent trial gripped Mozambique and the streets of the capital, Maputo, were deserted as the sentences were handed down.

Mr Cardoso was investigating a prominent family's role in the nation's largest banking scandal

Voluntary return

Anibalzinho, 31, was sentenced to 28 years and six months in jail by a Maputo court for murder, illegal possession of firearms and making false statements to state authorities.

His five accomplices received jail terms of 23 years and six months each after changing their pleas to guilty.

People laying flowers at the murder site in Maputo
Cardoso's death shocked Mozambique

They were also orderered to pay restitution of 4 billion meticais (US$175,000) to Mr Cardoso's family.

"The six committed a serious crime," said Judge Augusto Paulino.

"I think the punishments were correct. I am happy," said Mr Cardoso's widow, Nina Berg.

Anibalzinho told a Pretoria court on Friday he would return to Mozambique voluntarily.

"I just want to finish this matter," he said.

Mysterious cheques

The court proceedings - described by some as the trial of the century - have been broadcast live on national television.

Last month, attention in the trial shifted to the president's son, Nyimpine Chissano.

Nyimpine Chissano
Nyimpine Chissano denies involvement

The suspects showed a cheque signed by Mr Chissano to the court, saying he had used it to pay for Mr Cardoso's killing.

Nyimpine Chissano has denied this, saying the cheque may have come from a business contact to whom he had given signed cheques as a guarantee.

He has not been charged with any crime.

Correspondents say that a court decision to launch a formal investigation into the allegations against Mr Chissano will prove crucial in persuading the people of Mozambique whether their judiciary is above political interference.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"They're calling it the trial of the century"
Dr Joe Hanlon on Focus on Africa
"It was the result of alot of courageous people challenging a corrupt elite"
See also:

31 Jan 03 | Africa
07 Mar 02 | Africa
08 Mar 00 | Africa
27 Nov 02 | Country profiles
27 Nov 02 | Country profiles
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