Killer of journalist is arrested in Canada

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The Independent Online

The convicted killer of a celebrated Mozambican investigative journalist who exposed the country's biggest bank fraud has been arrested in Canada.

The convicted killer of a celebrated Mozambican investigative journalist who exposed the country's biggest bank fraud has been arrested in Canada.

Anibal Antonio dos Santos, 33, alias Anibalzinho, had been on the run since escaping last month from a jail in Maputo, the Mozambican capital, for the second time.

He was captured at Toronto airport by police, according to the office of Joaquim Madeira, the Mozambican attorney general. Anibalzinho was serving a 28-year sentence for the murder of Carlos Cardoso, Mozambique's best-known journalist.

Metical, a newspaper that had been set up by Mr Cardoso, exerted pressure on the authorities to prosecute the perpetrators of a £7mbank fraud that he exposed.

At least 15 people were accused of involvement in the bank fraud uncovered by Mr Cardoso at the Commercial Bank of Mozambique just before its privatisation in 1996. The verdict on the fraud case was due yesterday, but the judge postponed it to the middle of next month.

Apart from Anibalzinho, five other people are serving lengthy jail sentences for their roles in Mr Cardoso's murder.

Anibalzinho, who led the gang that shot and killed Mr Cardoso in his car shortly after he left his offices in central Maputo in November 2000, fled Mozambique's maximum security prison on 9 May.

The attorney general's office alleged that the fugitive's latest escape was facilitated by prison guards and promised an inquiry. Mediafix, a daily independent news-sheet in Maputo, quoted a prison source as saying that Anibalzinho was taken out of the jail by accomplices.

Anibalzinho first escaped while awaiting trial in September 2002 and was caught a year later in South Africa.

He was convicted in absentia of leading the gang that killed Mr Cardoso, who was 48. Mozambique's Noticias newspaper said the country would seek his extradition from Canada through Interpol and diplomatic means.

Mr Cardoso's killing robbed Mozambique of its best and most respected journalist. Before his murder, Mr Cardoso had complained of receiving several death threats, but he told journalists at the time that he still felt safe because there was no indication that anyone was seriously plotting to do so.

Mr Cardoso's journalistic integrity and outspokenness constantly annoyed politicians in the ruling Frelimo leadership.

In 1982, he was jailed, on the instructions of President Samora Machel, for writing a newspaper column about the growing war with the rebel movement, Renamo. Released after six days, he returned as editor of the government press agency. He later became one of Mr Machel's advisers.

Mr Cardoso is also said to have warned that the South African apartheid regime was planning to assassinate Mr Machel. The Mozambique President died in a mysterious air crash in 1986. Mr Cardoso wrote extensively on the death and made claims that numerous figures were involved.

Frustrated by management, and what he saw as poor journalism, in 1989 Mr Cardoso turned to painting.

However, three years later he was back, as co-founder of Mozambique's first independent press co-operative, Mediacoop. He later quit to start Metical.