Six jailed for 'worst crime in history of Mozambique'

Six men were found guilty yesterday of murdering Mozambique's leading investigative journalist to stop him revealing a prominent family's role in the nation's largest banking scandal.

The sensational trial, much of it broadcast live, has riveted the southern African country for two months. Witnesses and accused implicated some of the nation's most powerful people in Carlos Cardoso's murder.

Cardoso, 49, the founder and editor of the independent newspaper Metical, was in a car in Maputo in November 2000 when two vehicles forced it to stop, gunmen got out and shot Cardoso in the face, killing him. His driver was wounded.

Judge Augusto Paulino called the murder "the worst ever crime in Mozambican history." Cardoso had been investigating the country's biggest banking scandal, the 1996 theft of $14m (£9m) from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique.

He had urged the attorney general's office to try all those involved in the bank's scandal and implicated a prominent family, the Abdul Satars. In 1996, members of the family opened accounts in the bank, which was about to be privatised. The family allegedly deposited worthless cheques and withdrew $14m in cash.

Ayob Abdul Satar and a bank manager, Vincente Ramaya, were both convicted of ordering Cardoso's killing and sentenced to 23 and a half years in jail.Anibal Antonio dos Santos Jnr, who was tried in absentia for leading the assassins, was sentenced to 28 and a half years. Dos Santos, who escaped from a high-security jail last year, was captured this week in Pretoria by South African police.

During the trial, a former attorney general, a former cabinet minister and President Joaquim Chissano's son, Nyimpine, were accused of involvement in the killing. They are being investigated.

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